‘Session One’ by Alan Donnelly [EP Review]

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Background from the Artist

Alan Donnelly’s debut EP “Session One” will release October 30th 2020.

Co. Wexford Ireland—Hailing from Limerick now living in Wexford, Session One was recorded, produced and mixed from a shed in Kilmuckridge during lockdown.

Session One’s haunting melodies and dark lyrics are lightened by a tongue in cheek nod to 50’s pop.

The Flood

This song is the right way of starting this album because it has a lot of build-up and release. The music begins quieter and eases the listener into the whole album, but the song itself also builds to a more powerful emotional moment before pulling back again. It has many tonal dynamics that make it an exciting start, if not my favourite song on the EP as a whole.

If I had any criticism for it, I would say that the vocal sounds a bit tight. That being said, it’s not something that stood out to me on other songs on this album, which makes me believe that it’s probably a choice to make the vocal sound tighter because it adds to the song’s emotion and storytelling.

When You’re Gone

This song reminds me of a lot of 60s soft rock songs. There’s something about the guitars and the overall more soothing feeling to it, along with the layered harmonizing vocals in the back, that makes it a song I want to sway along to. This song has a great vibe to it, it’s shocking that a song like this was recorded in a shed somewhere in Ireland.

It’s the kind of retro feeling rock song that put a smile on my face even if the song’s content might be a bit more melancholy. I love songs that remind me of the Beach Boys, so this is a nice treat to find on this album.

Mirror Mirror

This song is probably my favourite song on this whole EP. I love the haunting layered vocals that come throughout the music with just enough dissonance between them to create conflict between the different vocal tracks.

I also really like the staccato guitar and bass and how there’s a kind of call-and-response between the two of them. It creates an almost meandering and persistent beat to the overall track that brings a more haunted feeling. It’s almost as if the music mirrors that feeling where you can’t fully let go of an idea, and instead, you just kind of keep cycling back to what you’re doing.

It’s also a nice touch where the vocals in a lot of ways mirror each other like the song title, but it’s slightly off, so there’s an uncanny element in the way that the vocals work concerning the themes of the song.

Rain

I like the vocal melodies In general on the EP, but this was the song where I became aware of some of the elements of why that is. I like the scoops that are put into a lot of the vocal melody, which adds this almost questioning quality to the phrases’ end.

When people ask questions in a verbal speech, a way of marking the question is to go up in pitch at the end. Putting in little scoops like that into your vocals brings that speech element into the song. There’s a lot of uncertainty within this album that the vocals are very good at communicating.

I also really like the minor falls that happen a lot where I feel like I know where the progression is going with a vocal melody, and then it will drop down when I’m least expecting it. Either way, I would find myself humming along to the vocal melodies after hearing a song even before I learned any of the words, which is usually a good sign.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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