Abbey Records | Tsuneni Ai
Fionn Regan has been off the radar for a while. Five years ago, after the release of The Bunkhouse: Vol 1: Anchor Black Tattoo—a stripped-back fingerpicked guitar-and-vocals affair, Regan decided to focus on painting. His social media accounts lay dormant with nothing to indicate any prospective releases on the horizon. But, thankfully, Fionn Regan is back with an all-embracing new sound.
It would be unfair to call The Meetings of The Waters a reinvention. Regan has often shifted his sound: the follow up to his cerebral debut The End of History was the rugged bluesy The Shadow of an Empire. It is clear Regan is eager not to be pidgeon-holed, especially not into the troubadour box.
Regan’s new record opens with the title-track, an accessible yet intimate jaunt not many were expecting. Before long, we are introduced to Babushka-Yai Ya; a thudding combative track with some of Regan’s catchiest work. That is not to say that Regan has taken a step toward the commercial. He surprises listeners with Ai, an excursion into ambient electronica, proving to be a pleasing accompaniment.
Despite Regan’s adventures through new sonic pathways, his evocative lyrics—the core staples of his work—remain.
The album as a whole, despite its disparate sounds, is clearly meant to be listened to in sequence. As fingerpicked guitar rises and strings fade to be replaced by waves of electronica, the album acts as both a referential journey through Regan’s past-work as well as an introduction to what Regan has been experimenting with for the past few years. The closing track, the 12 minute-long Tsuneni Ai, is an instrumental glimmering sea of ambience building upon the sonic foundations of Ai; cementing The Meetings of The Waters as a fully rounded and realised work.
Despite Regan’s adventures through new sonic pathways, his evocative lyrics—the core staples of his work—remain. On Cormorant Bird, a folky but sprawling track, Regan sings: “the cloud pulled it’s curtain/ but a light stayed where you sat/ in the blackberry bush/ where the bulbs shatter white”. Lyrically, Regan remains intimate and inventive throughout, a testament to his ability as a songwriter.
The Meetings of the Waters is a gorgeous return for Regan. Although he has veered off the prototypical folk artist course that was outlined for him back when he was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2006, with this new record Fionn Regan has sailed to new spellbinding shores. An unparalleled five stars.
The Meetings of the Waters is available now.