Review Archive

‘My Friend Marx’ the debut album from Irish folk-blues singer songwriter Marc O'Reilly

(January 11, 2012)

Do the roots of Americana thrive in Ireland? Does the inspiration of Irish folk blend My Friend Marxwith the blues? Listen to ‘My Friend Marx’ the debut album from Irish folk-blues singer songwriter Marc O'Reilly for the definitive answers. And by the way it’s ‘yes’ to both questions. From tongue in cheek contemplation to statements that cut like a knife, all backed by scintillating guitar work combined with a voice imbued with depth and character.

Personal reflections sit side-by-side with wider tales and observations. From the questioning sadness of ‘My Friend Marx’ with soaring strings adding just the right wistful touch, through the lost mournful reflections of ‘The Scottish Widow’ to the comprehensive string-driven essence of ‘Hail’ with its celebratory choral echoes. There’s no fear in blending whatever elements make the music work – whatever the genesis or influence, this collection hits home – listen to ‘An African Day’ to hear the mélange work to perfection.

The deeply moving, power-blues of ‘Lord of War’ takes no prisoners with lyrics that emphasise the ultimate disgrace of power without responsibility, keenly underscored by cutting guitar riffs. 'Tell Old Joe' is a folk-blues gem, a shining example of a storytelling song with blisteringly enticing guitar work bouncing across the engrossing lyric – not a still foot in the house when Marc lets this one rip. The progression of the years reflects how families grow old through the gently insightful 'Family Reunion' – as perceptive as it comes with its acerbic but lovingly truthful view of family life. The earthy feel returns with the gutsy ‘Get Back’ replete with heady guitar, penetrating trumpet cuts and a tempting edge that’s as persuasive and rough as raw whiskey.

‘My Friend Marx’ combines the talents of Marc O’Reilly (guitar, bass, piano) Melanie O’Reilly (backing vocals) Emmet Quann (drums) Jess Maderson (cello) Kate Curran (trumpet) Karina Gallagher, Tom Crowley (violins) Aiveen Gallagher (viola) plus the voices of The Choir on ‘Hail’ and ‘Lord of War’.

‘My Friend Marx’ is available on Irish indie label, Salt & Shake Records.

Reviewer: Tom Franks

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