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Owen Denvir Owen Denvir
Album: Sticks
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 5

This is a much 'poppier' work than I would normally review but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to "Sticks". This guy has a seriously good voice. On first listening I felt it was similar to Justin Vernon's (Bon Iver) but Denvir presents a stronger, more rounded vocal. I then started to feel incredibly smug, when I read his website bio "Belfast born Owen Denvir was more drawn by Bon Iver than Bach". It is not at all surprising that this EP is receiving attention far and wide. It is real quality, and each of the five tracks is a rattling good pop song.

"Sticks" is the first of a trilogy of EPs that 29 year old Denvir will be releasing over the coming months, the others being "Stones" and "Bones". The opening song from "Sticks", "The Lie That You Think I Am", is immediately characterised by Denvir's terrific voice. This is a beautifully constructed and expertly produced, song, with plenty of space and single quality writ large.

Denvir's main instrument on this EP is the piano, and in the semi-auto-biographical "Ghost" it is accompanied by gothic style organ that would grace a Ville Valo (H.I.M.) album. The extra texture adds real quality to the song together with a touch of darkness that perfectly match its subject matter. The finest moment in "Ghost" is the fabulous piano break that brings the song to its close.

"Reckless" takes a slightly different direction with guitar being the main instrument with Denvir drawing on the services of a backing vocalist to complement his own powerful delivery. It's one of those songs that dives straight into its hook. It hooks you in and builds with synth and strings into a compelling song that you will have on repeat. This is my personal favourite, although I think in "Stay" he should probably have the EP's biggest hit.

The gentler "Rewind" is a ballad that pulls on the heart strings in a way only the best pop songs can. There is nothing remotely cheesy about any of these songs. No matter what your musical influences or persuasion there is no doubt that this is a stellar piece of work.

In "Stay", the first single from the EP Denvir saves the best, most personal song until last. It's about "a relationship I had that broke up over a distance" (interview, Music Talks XYZ): 'If it makes you feel better then stay. And I'll be whatever you need'. It's anthemic and it doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to visualise Owen Denvir delivering it on the biggest of stages.

John Reed