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Review | “The embodiment of ethereal” Seamus Fogarty – The Curious Hand

Seamus Fogarty photo Brian Whar

The Last Mixed Tape reviews The Curious Hand, the brand new studio album from Seamus Fogarty. 

The embodiment of ethereal, Seamus Fogarty’s The Curious Hand has a softness to it undercut by Fogarty’s abstract take on Irish traditional music. An album built around lyricism and phrasing, both the music and the meaning play an equal role in bringing this record to life.

Using trad and folk genre motifs as a jumping point, The Curious Hand scratches and contorts texturally behind Fogarty’s unique vocal. In tracks like interwoven opener ‘Short Ballad For A Long Man’, ‘Heels Over Head’ and ‘Tommy The Cat’,  the album takes time to explore these harmonic drones and the space created within the music to leave the entire record teeming with an organic atmosphere. And while there are moments where this feels a little forced (see: ‘St. John’s Square’), this sense of place feels real.

Indeed, Seamus Fogarty is a modernist storyteller. And it’s in the moments where Fogarty is recalling his own experiences and the prism in which he perceives them that The Curious Hand truly comes alive. Set to the aforementioned weighty atmosphere, ‘Carlow Town’ is a song the glistens and howls with imagination. Through the songwriter’s detailed ramblings the song draws you into its world and indeed the world of The Curious Hand. Crunching electronic sounds collide with a persistent picked guitar as Fogarty weaves his story and everything falls into place.

The Curious Hand is unique. Although it takes many of its inspirations from various places, the cubist way in which Fogarty dismantles and re-uses these different parts to create his singular music is what gives the album its sense of abstract personality. A journey into the world according to Seamus Fogarty, The Curious Hand is a trip worth taking.

Rating: 8/10

The Curious Hand by Seamus Fogarty is out now via Domino Records. 

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