'Lucky Bones' is the moniker or musical persona of Irish singer - songwriter Eamonn O'Connor. A chance encounter in Kansas City USA with Texas based producer Stephen Ceresia resulted in 2010's very well received 'Together We Are All Alone'. After putting together a touring band, Eamonn returned to Texas with them and recorded 2013's follow up 'Someone's Son' before 2014's more stripped back, five track EP 'Blessed'.
Eamonn's sound is described as 'Mixing the Celtic rock of The Waterboys with the guitar driven anthems of The War on Drugs and introspection of Ryan Adams'. However, for 'Matchstick Men' we are told these influences are deepened with 'the synth sounds of The Cure and atmospheric feel of early albums by The Verve'.
On the album Eamonn is joined by multi instrumentalist and lead guitarist Peter O'Grady, Leon Kennedy bass, Conor Miley keys, Binzer Brennan drums and producer Gavin Glass.
At eight songs, all Eamonn originals, 'Matchstick Men' runs at a little over 30 minutes so occupies that space somewhere between a long EP and a short album.
Opening and title track 'Matchstick Men' enters on swirly, droning effects, almost like an orchestra tuning before the conductor raps his baton and they all coalesce into something rather lovely. The song proper starts with sharp drums, bass and a 'Sultans of Swing' type guitar part as Eamonn's sweetly toned, slightly husky vocal settles nicely in the mix as it all rattles through rather splendidly. A great opening track and, in the best possible way, very radio friendly.
'The Things (That We Take In)' follows at a slightly slower tempo but with a rockier guitar figure and yearning vocal, more Americana than Celtic to my ears, whilst 'Gone' enters ballad type territory to telling effect. This is the first song to really bring the textured synth sounds to the fore and alongside a crisp drum track reminded me a little of that wide-open U2 'Joshua Tree' era feel.
'Breathe' is back to some great bar room guitar, bass and drum driven ensemble playing with an epic chorus, then it's the tight band groove of 'I Can Feel It Coming' that's bumped along by a propulsive bass line and yet more sharp drumming.
In their own way, each of the last three tracks on the album really brings the synth led creativity and ambience to the fore.
'Neon Morgue', a title Marc Almond would be proud of, comes in like a Soft Cell tune and floats atmospherically until around one minute fifty seconds when the band kicks in and soaks the song in reverb drenched guitar. The track builds and builds until Eamonn's voice is swamped in the mix as it all culminates in something of a musical tour de force.
'Home To You' starts as a straight forward ballad with a wonderfully warm vocal, but over a synth backdrop rather than a more obvious acoustic guitar part and again the reverie is broken with the arrival of the band, but here Eamonn holds his own and rides the song out on top of the music.
'The Walls' is nothing less than an epic closing track. Shimmering in on synths, drums, rumbling bass and sweetly resigned vocals, Eamonn sings 'Lullaby come and sing to me, Lonely nights just trouble in my dreams'. Close your eyes and it's a bit like a lost 'Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark' track but then half way through the song its time for another one of those musical detours and we are treated to a soundscape that somehow mixes shades of 1970's John Martyn and Tim Buckley, morphs into a rock out section and exits for all the world like the best song 'Elbow' never recorded. A glorious six minutes thirty-six seconds of genre hopping Celtic-Americana Prog Rock!
'Matchstick Men' is a restless, endlessly creative album, which reveals itself rewardingly with repeated listens. 'Lucky Bones' and his musical friends have bought influences together that are not obviously compatible, but here they are presented with such verve and conviction the whole sound is never anything less than compelling.
Lovely stuff and thoroughly recommended.
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