Drowning In The Shallow - Andy Flannagan

Posted by Sam Hailes  ·  5 visitor comments

Drowning In The Shallow is a solemn and reserved album from experienced songwriter and political activist Andy Flannagan.

This is the Irishman’s third full-length release and it’s even more thought provoking than his previous efforts.

Starting with the album cover itself, Andy makes bold statements on consumerism and wealth. Described on his website as an “invitation to take some steps out into the deep water, away from the relative safety and comfort of our flat-screen worlds,” the album reflects on the fragility of the world we live in.

After a somewhat depressing opening track, The Reason is more upbeat in sound. But don’t be fooled by the jolly sounding chorus complete with violins and warm keyboard sounds.

“While you’re waiting, the rich have been raping the poor,” Andy proclaims in the second verse. There’s also accusations of “signing over your conscience to free market lies” while the bridge challenges the listener “this is no mystery… Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.”

This song is typical of the album as Andy preaches to himself and the listener simultaneously, penning lyrics that always challenge and sometimes dishearten before leaving the listener with a glimmer of hope.

Production wise, the recording is faultless. The Grammy award winning Alan Branch (Cat Stevens, Sinead O Connor) has added lovely strings, soft guitars and the occasional drum beat.

Andy quite rightly refuses to divide his music from his politics. Thankfully for the listener, the album isn’t all doom and gloom from a musical point of view.

Addictions may sound like another depressing title. But it’s actually quite amusing in places as Andy sings “I know it’s a crazy, shallow thing / Just now I’d rather watch ‘The West Wing’”. He even lets out a little chuckle during the bridge before a great harmonica tune kicks in. It’s a fantastic song.

Ego has a Hawaiian influenced guitar strum to it and Healing contains some beautiful instrumentation and backing vocals. Lyrically, I have to be honest and say it’s difficult to find a happy song on the recording.

Fans of folk and acoustic music that packs a punch lyrically will love Andy’s album. Aspiring songwriters will also find inspiration from tunes that tell a story and preach a message.

While it’s tempting to write that the album could have done with a couple of more upbeat or positive songs, such an idea probably misses the point. Life is often tough. There’s a time and a place for reflecting on this and admitting we don’t have the answers. Drowning In The Shallow aids this reflection.

Andy has taken time to tackle the painful side of life with his new album. He’s done it with elegance, musical beauty and unreserved passion. You may not always agree with his politics, but it’s difficult not to enjoy his music, even if it does focus on the darker side of life.

Rating: 8 out of 10

21st August

August 21st, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes

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5 Visitor Comments

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@sarasaith

@sarasaith

Posts: 1

Interessant. I love this album and although it certainly doesn't shy away from the prevalent darkness that can threaten to consume, to me it's ebullient heart constantly bursts through. That's what makes it so listenable to me: gloves off appraisal of the world, shot through with life-giving optimism and a knowledge that there is always hope. Love it!

Wednesday, 22nd August 2012 at 10:56AM

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fiona Miller

fiona Miller

Posts: 1

I am so surprised that the reviewer thinks the album is all doom and gloom. What I love about Andy Flannagan's latest offering is the wholeheartedness of it, and his willingness to engage with every corner of life rather than separating out all the strands and keeping them in their own box. Far from being a depressing opening, the first track is an invitation out into the deep water, where we'll "feel alive". The songs do then take us to all kinds of difficult and uncomfortable places in our world, rather than shielding us from them, but they don't leave us in a place of despair. This is what feels to me to be so important - they are constantly pointing to hope, and inviting us into a deeper, more aware and more active engagement with the world we live in.

Wednesday, 22nd August 2012 at 11:05AM

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Jon Kuhrt

Jon Kuhrt

Posts: 1

Thanks for the review. I think one of the key things about the album is the concept of lament - which is very biblical genre of expression but which is neglected within the Christian world. I agree with Sara and Fiona that I find the album very hopeful but in a grounded and 'real' way. I found it uplifting - a lot more so than I am by much of the lightweight fluff that is mass produced in the Christian world. I did a review (admittedly focussing more on the lyrics) on my blog here -http://resistanceandrenewal.net/2012/06/06/drowning-in-the-shallow-andy-flannagan-review/

Wednesday, 22nd August 2012 at 2:28PM

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Phil Stokes

Phil Stokes

Posts: 1

Loved this albums fine production, lyrical honesty, full of clear biblical themes and humor. Found the reviewers comment on the opening track being depressing a bit weird (its final repeated refrain is: 'I feel alive'!) This is a truly beautiful song of lament and hope made particularly haunting by the excellent cello playing. This album does what most fail to do - it takes you on a journey as each song carries you from honest reflection to biblical hope.

Wednesday, 22nd August 2012 at 5:24PM

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PhilMusic

PhilMusic

Posts: 1

Thanks for the review, I have found reading it quite frustrating though as I feel that perhaps you have missed the point of this album? For example, describing the opening track as depressing, when surely, in the context of our Christian faith, the challenge to brave "swimming in the deeper waters" instead of staying "in the shallow" and perhaps not developing our relationship with our creator or his creation is a positive one. Throughout the album we are challenged not to just live comfortable lives, but to get out of our comfort zones and see "His kingdom come, His will be done on earth..." For me, this album speaks truths and reality of a fallen world, (which is often forgotten about in Christian lyric) but also enlightens us that that is not all and there is a hope...surely this is not depressing/negative?! I understand musical taste is subjective and so if you feel some of these tracks are depressing thats is to your taste. I would like to say, however, that I find many of the tracks you might call depressing (especially the opening track) extremely beautiful and give me an overwhelming sense of peace and beauty!

Wednesday, 22nd August 2012 at 6:31PM

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