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Fionn Regan @ Hotel Cafe 8/7

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Last night at Hotel Café, I had the privilege of seeing Fionn Regan on tour for his new album The End of History, released July 10th. Hailing all the way from County Wicklow, this twenty-six year old Irish lad is a combination of a folk singer and acoustic journeyman, traveling and telling his stories to those with open ears. And his songs are stories- lyrics are the focus of The End of History and each one tells a tale of travels, characters, heartbreak and loneliness.

Influenced by Bob Dylan and Neil Young, Regan has been compared to Elliot Smith and Nick Drake, but somehow I think that Regan will make it out alive. Although some tunes have a haunting sadness, most have an underlying optimism making them both sad and light all at once. Regan was a “surprise” finalist for the Mercury Music Prize, which honors the best Irish or English album of the previous year, although I’m not so sure why it was such a surprise- maybe because its his first full length album? The results will be announced September 4th, and with his growing fan base, this wandering troubadour has a good chance of taking home the prize. Regardless of the accolades, Regan’s album demonstrates not only his lyrical chops, but his pristine guitar skills as well.

At Hotel Café, the hip (and small) Hollywood music venue, the crowd was packed, standing room only. Having never seen Fionn Regan perform before, I was surprised at his slight build and unassuming air, for some reason I was expecting someone with Richard Ashcroft’s height and attitude. But despite his size, Regan’s vocals soar - Regan knows he’s good, and his confidence doesn’t come off as arrogance, but rather a refreshing persona that we hardly see in the brooding singer songwriter types. His rendition of “The Underwood Typewriter” a rich song full of texture and emotion, had the little hairs on my arms stand up and his repetitive and western styled “Put a Penny in the Slot” was a crowd favorite with its simple rhymes and pretty melody. The more sinister and dark “Hunter’s Map” had the audience’s rapt attention.

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Regan’s songs are both rich as well as stark at times and so is his performance- grounded and bare, not many stories between the songs as the songs are stories unto themselves. Maybe it was just the adorable Irish accent, or the floppy shaggy hair-do, but when he did speak to the crowd he was likeable and charming. Regan closed the show with the beautiful “Be Good or Be Gone” and just like that it was over. Too short of a show for me, but I did have “The Underwood Typewriter” in my head when I woke up this morning.

Fionn Regan is currently on tour, to check for dates or to purchase The End of History go to his website.

Photo provided by Lost Highway Records