English translation of the CD review by MARCIE, online at www.rootstime.be: MARC O’REILLY – MY FRIEND MARX


Sometimes nature can be unfair in the distribution of gifts and talents. Anyway, young Irishman Marc O’Reilly got more than his proper share: a hoarse and sensitive voice, warm and varied guitar playing, poetical lyrics, moving melodies, intense passion and the drive of a young blues wolf, chasing music that runs wild everywhere and soaking it up with eagerness. In general Irish people are fed with musical notes mixed into the baby bottle, but the versatility that O’Reilly exhibits in his debut album comes close to the genius of Yeats. Of course he gets help from a bunch of talented musicians, the likes of Emmet Quann on drums and Kate Curran on trumpet. Curran intrigues in the bitter ‘Get Back’ throughout the arrangement that’s already quite unpredictable. On the title track ‘My Friend Marx’ a string quartet drops in. On the nostalgic ‘Narrow Street’ Melaine O’Reilly sings along. The complete album breathes genuine emotion, emanating from a disoriented soul looking for a way out.

Marc’s songs seem to wander out in different directions. The ardent ‘Lord Of War’ gives head to the war god. The impelling ‘Tell Old Joe’ with its lashing drums exudes blues out of all its pores. This ominous song is preceded by a mysterious intro on the slide guitar but gradually takes on a gipsy tempo. On ‘La Question’ too that gipsy feeling is apparent. In ‘Family Reunion’ Marc recalls a scene from his youth like a group photo set on music and framed in humour. The compelling ‘Hail’ is unwordly beautiful and gets under your skin through a choir that makes you shiver even more. The sound of ‘Hail’ and Marc’s warm voice refer to Ray LaMontagne. The instrumental ‘An African Day’ with its dazzling dexterity creates the image of a desert ride through the drifting sand.

The most beautiful songs are those wherein the cello of Jess Maderson emerges like the embodiment and audible expression of what’s humanly impossible to explain. In the passionate ’20 Minutes For 2 Years’ this cello seemingly seeks to alleviate the atrocious pains of the outcast. In the hypnotic ‘F.O.O.’ that same cello abunds with compassion. Because of the guitar rhythms this tune has some affinity with the trance blues of Otis Taylor. Besides being a guitar buff, O’Reilly also masters the piano and the bass. The poet puts a colourful booklet to the CD on top of all that. Before Marc O’Reilly chose to take the path of the lone troubadour, he played in indie rock bands, but on the grounds of this debute one tends to believe that folk-blues is his natural environment, one that was outlined at birth by the family fairy. It appears that this album has already found its way to many top ten lists. That I missed his concert in Toogenblik, I already regret as if it were a capital sin. Hopefully they bring him back soon.

Marcie (translation: AL)

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