A Review of Barry McLoughlin's CD

by Barry McLoughlin

Narrative Music NM0599
Copyright: Narrative Music 2004.

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 2/04

This is the debut album from this Ontario-based singer songwriter. From reading the notes, I discover that he apparently emigrated from Dublin Ireland in early childhood.

Must have been early childhood alright, for there is no trace of the Celtic in either his music or his singing voice. It is a thoroughly North American-sounding album. I say North American rather than American or Canadian, because the singers he so reminds one of, are drawn from both sides of the border.

A song like “5th Avenue” sounds like pure Gordon Lightfoot. “Sarah” sounds like David Buskin. “Dance For Me” and “Do You Still Believe?” have (all over both songs) the DNA of his great hero, Harry Chapin.

Other tracks on this self-penned album bring to mind Jim Croce and Paul Siebel.

The songs are mainly on the subject of love found, shared, strained… and even lost. But the general feeling is optimistic: the general tone, mellow and reflective. The songs are easy on the ear.

He has a pleasant voice that can handle a lyric. And he writes melodies that one detects as being tuneful, if a little derivative. The melodies are aided by his own acoustic guitar and (especially) the considerable efforts of multi-instrumentalist Mike Dillon. Dillon turns in a fine job. Best of all I liked his electric bass on “We've Got Love” and his dobro on “Thing Called Love”.

This is a most encouraging album. That I don't think the songs quite “have it” in the lyrics department, is not the most damning of criticism. The fact is that I am hard to please.

At least, the lyrics scan, and make sense. And that in itself is not all that common these days! But, I think Barry would agree with me - if he can imagine himself in the shoes of a listener who knows neither him nor the people who inhabit and prompt his songs - that the words are NOT going to blow that listener away.

But that said, this is an album I will return to.

I will end my piece with what might seem a vile insult. It isn't. It is jocular reference. Here is that “insult”: NARRATIVE RECORDS REMIND ME OF THE NAZI PARTY!

There! I've said it! These things are better “out” than “in”, eh?

What do I mean? Well I fancy that Barry's record company have taken a leaf out of Herr Schicklgruber's book. I recall once reading that Hitler and his half-dozen thugs decided to start the membership number of their fledgling party at “501”: that way folk would think they had over 500 members in record quick time!

And I see Narrative Records have chalked up 599 CDs inside a year! Ha!

Seriously though Barry, I doff my hat to you, not just for this harmless ruse, but more importantly for a very pleasant 50+ minutes of music. Music that is a bit of a throwback to the 70s Folk Scene…and is none-the-worse for that.

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

Track List: (no timings shown)

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