Conor Dardis is a Clondalkin-born musician based in Preston, England. His collection of demos, ‘The 51 From Station Road’ is the work of an exceptional artist, specialising in what he terms ‘Immigrant Suburban Folk’.
Dardis’ lyrics focus on the working-class, suburban Dublin of his childhood, its characters, and their experiences and hardships. With minimal production and a stripped-back sound throughout, this collection relies solely on Dardis’ often haunting, always sincere vocals and acoustic guitar playing.
Dardis’ work and approach to songwriting has drawn comparisons to Billy Bragg and Bruce Springsteen, and the similarity to the latter is evident in his hoarse yet soft vocal delivery on ‘Accelerator’. Paying homage to early blues artists, it is a fast-paced, steam-train of a track, calling to mind The Soggy Bottom Boys of the Coen brother’s masterpiece ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’
‘Ballad Of The Butcher’s Wife’ is a wonderfully told story, which I won’t spoil here, set to country-style guitar playing and with Dardis’ voice suggesting he’s a man who has seen it all, and is setting his life experiences to a beautiful acoustic backdrop. The writing here is of the same ilk of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits, Dardis’ captivating storytelling ignites the imagination and the imagery is so vivid you can picture the events discussed. Throughout these recordings you can’t help but be rapt, and feel a connection with the characters and their messenger.
The title track of the collection is nothing short of expert songwriting, and after multiple listens and a long time deliberating I have decided to give it a five-star rating. I know this is high praise, but I am happy in saying that this song is flawless. It is a tale of the cancellation of a bus route and its knock-on effects on the community, the narrator in particular. It really tugs on the heart strings, with fingerpicked minor chords and soft, excellently delivered vocals. This song would not seem out of place on the soundtrack to a Shane Meadows film.
From my first listen to these demos I felt I was hearing something important, something brand new and to be excited about. This collection shows an extraordinary talent for songwriting and storytelling, the low-fi recording and subtle vocals perfectly fitting on these tracks. Conor Dardis has found a new fan in me, and with increased coverage and a broader spotlight, I’m sure I will be far from the last.