Dan McCarthy in the Irish Examiner
The Is and Was and Maybes © Fintan Lucy 2002
THE all-encompassing time-frames of Fintan Lucy’s first solo CD suggests a man at once firmly alive in the present, nostalgic and uncertain of the future. That he can sometimes convey each of these conditions in one song is testament to the man’s songwriting abilities.
Well-known in traditional music circles in Ireland, Lucy has drawn on his life experiences to produce an album of lasting endurance. The sound is reminiscent of long-time friend and collaborator Ger Wolfe but has Lucy’s own unique imprint.
The title track The Is and Was and Maybes is a gorgeous love song and utterly passionate. Nature imagery keeps cropping up throughout: lightning, wind, light, rain, sun, snowfall, thunder, suggesting a brooding, passionate heart. Relationships, particularly with women, are the driving-force of the album. Paeans to love, love lost and found and the possible rewards of sticking with a relationship gone sour are beautifully expressed. Of course, love of place should not be forgotten.
Nohoval, (near Kinsale, Co Cork) is the singer’s stark statement that he can only be happy in this place. “So you’ve heard, I’m in danger of losing the head to a stranger.”
Woods and streams, cliffs, the man snug in his bed, the sun in his kitchen, are the minutiae of life which makes the man. But the message is beware: nature has an unforgiving heart, itself. Nohoval also indicates the soaring range of Lucy’s voice.
His verbal dexterity should not be forgotten in the face of his driving melodies or slower-paced tunes: Grey-Blue Eyes shows his keen ear to combine lyrics with pace: “So glad I asked you, twice, three times, thought we might have sweet times.
” In You Don’t Care, Lucy demonstrates an ability to see a situation from multiple perspectives by singing in a voice dissimilar to his regular air.
Peace Will Come Again, evokes the English traditional music of Damien Barber or Scotsman Bert Jansch. That is seriously good company to keep and Lucy is not out of place with them. His understated humor (Peace will come only when ostriches take to the wing), does not detract from the song’s serious wish.
The return home is a classic element of this genre. Warm Salvation describes the wanderer returning home and shows Lucy at his best, neatly concluding and closing off a cyclical episode in his life with reconciliation. If this shows the artist at his heights he is going through the motions on The Day that She Comes which has a tendency to drift.
In this self-produced album Lucy has come up with an all-round gem. The nature cover design of Rachel Padfield also deserves a strong mention. Refreshingly timeless.