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Michael MalarkeyMichael Malarkey
Album: Mongrels
Label: Cap On Cat
Tracks: 12

Born in Lebanon of Irish-American-Anglo-Arab-Italian descent, Malarkey is perhaps better known as Enzo from The Vampire Diaries. He also happens to be a pretty good singer-songwriter too, trading in folksy Americana with a warmly weathered, slightly reedy baritone, introspective lyrics and, generally, sprightly, catchy melodies.

The fingerpicked acoustic 'My History Will Be The Death Of Me', gets things off to a good start, slightly reminding me of early Steve Forbert, keeping things uptempo for the chugging mandolin-led ryhthm of 'Girl In The Moon' before taking a moodier turn on 'Time's Still Standing Still' and the atmospheric folktronica of 'Uncomfortably Numb' that nods to Pink Floyd in the title and David Bowie in the delivery.

'I Just Want You' reveals a well-judged pop sensibility, but, by contrast, 'Dog Dream' is much more a Tom Waits slouch while the gently tumbling chords of the title track takes Townes Van Zandt out on a fairground carousel.

As you might have expected from the onscreen character, there's an element of brooding here too, specifically the chilly, minimalist metronomic 'Scars' and the melancholic melody of 'Love Will Kill Us All Someday' with its crackling static-like backdrop. And album designed to be variously referred to as haunting, hushed and emotionally wearied, the dictionary definitions of malarkey include drivel, nonsense and empty rhetoric. Guess they'll have to rewrite them now.

Mike Davies