The fourth studio album from singer-songwriter Mick Flannery, By The Rule rattles and hums with the artist’s characteristic style.
From the opening clanging echo of guitar and short sharp rhythm that follows, By The Rule begins with ‘Get What You Give’. Flannery’s singular snarl and the jolting energy of the recording pound and shake with each strong vocal delivery. From the outset their seems to be a definite sense of place and ambience to the album.
Moving dynamically, By The Rule slips between gentle, hushed tracks such as ‘The Watcher’ to the slow-burning beat of ‘The Small Fire’, as the stark mood of the recording’s overall sound leaves each separate element room to echo and weave themselves sonically into the dense harmonic tapestry of album’s background.
However it is ‘The Blame’ that provides the album’s most affective passage. Resonating with shimmering guitar and deft touches of piano the track calmly takes hold as the songwriter serenely and subtly tells his story through expressionistic lyrical trysts and interwoven melodies that provide the high water mark of By The Rule as a whole.
While By The Rule is in no means a drastic reappraisal or sonic sea-change from Mick Flannery in terms of the production and sound of his music, the album does convey the artist’s immense talent as a storyteller. Indeed, the point and strength of the songwriter’s work often seems to be more about how these emotive themes are translated lyrically and vocally. In this context his latest record does flicker with moments of great beauty and feel, something that we come to expect from Flannery. However some risks would have lifted and progressed the record and therefore shown a more palpable growth in comparison to his previous releases.
Imbued with a definite mood and tone that permeates throughout, By The Rule captures the essence of Mick Flannery’s song-writing by allowing the songs simply speak for themselves and relying on the timbre of the musician’s deeply evocative and instantly recognisable voice.
By The Rule by Mick Flannery is out now.