Simon MacHale is an Irish artist who specialises in a unique style that fuses classic folk melodies with contemporary electro-pop motifs. The Cork born singer/songwriter has enjoyed a long love affair with composing alternative music, which took him to Switzerland for half a decade of studying and performing. Now back in his homeland and following on from his 2012 Nothing But This One EP, he has been having quite a bit of success with his debut album, Let Down Those Old Defences.
Beginning with “The Beautiful Scientist”, an amiable acoustic riff is met with a pleasant melody. It’s a soft and simple opener, whose content is rather heartwarming. “Copy and Paste” is a departure afterwards, featuring an electronic beat and dire keys ahead of a solemn and stirring harmony. While it maintains the light touch of its predecessor, it switches genres from straightforward folk to full on electro-pop.
“I Remember” lands somewhere between the first two tracks stylistically. There’s an anxious feel to the whole thing as it paces frantically forward. The strings that consistently unfold in the background afford it a simultaneously sobering quality. An organ like effect follows to guide “Quiet Young Redhead” into a reserved but vivid verse, while synthetic percussion continuously builds up a sense of anticipation.
“Only a Child” comes along next with a playful instrumental introduction that precedes a characterful melody. Some innocuous chimes butt-in sporadically, helping to maintain an airy atmosphere. It all gives the piece a strong sense of intrigue and innocence. “If I Cannot Have You” is fast and forceful in its aftermath. Pounding along purposefully, it constantly skims the border of the dance genre.
Loud and passionate vocals resound across hectic instrumentation during “It’s Better to Have Loved”. When all of its elements are combined, it can be a little jarring, but there is a sense of depth to it. The mellow piano keys of “The Perfect Death” succeed it, strolling along beside a melancholy melody. This stripped down and sombre offering is extremely affecting in its simplicity.
“The Miller’s Daughter” takes off by way of a meaningful acoustic riff and vibrant vocals. At times, there seems to be hints of optimism buried amid this otherwise forlorn sounding composition. “Over the Sea to Skye” is another sedate and restrained undertaking, featuring some powerful vocals and moving strings, while “The Chill of the Eve” comes as a refreshingly relaxed entry, whose colourful execution is indeed quite chilling. The record culminates then in “As Blue Turned to Red”, as a warm and welcoming riff develops alongside a haunting harmony, bringing things to a touching end.
Simon MacHale’s work here is an intriguing blend of electronics and acoustics. He manages to successfully combine a number of contemporary genres while keeping a folk feel prevalent throughout. Its articulately sung lyrics and atmospheric nature make Let Down Those Old Defences worth sampling. You can purchase it on Bandcamp now.
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