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