The Drays – Look Away Down Collins Avenue – Album Review by Killian Laher
Legendary Dublin musician Stephen Ryan released an album with his latest band The Drays in 2015. For the uninitiated, Ryan played with the critically acclaimed yet under-appreciated Stars of Heaven in the 80s and The Revenants in the 90s. Fans of those bands will find much to enjoy here. Jangly guitars introduce the opening track, the rocky The Assignment, Ryan’s vaguely Paul Westerberg-esque vocal, ably accompanied by some perfect harmonies. The effect is not far off Teenage Fanclub. Portuguese Trucks is in a similar vein, and in fact The Fourteenth Floor practically rocks out, such is its level of exuberance.
Ryan doesn’t sing all the songs, Eileen Gogan takes lead vocals on Sorrel Hill, Silver River and standout ballad Queen of Time. Gogan’s voice gives these songs an almost innocent, country edge, particularly on the latter. Not every track on the album works, The Seven Years’ War and You Say The Same Thing Twice strive to be big pop tunes, but don’t really fit with rest of the album, disrupting the mood somewhat.
On the other hand, the dark, REM-style ballad Spooked is one of the finer tracks as Ryan sings “when I was a kid I got spooked by the emptiness of this place”. Not a million miles off the bleak Americana of Richmond Fontaine. Old fashioned, finely crafted songs like Playground of the Rich don’t break new ground but have a melancholy charm, while the guitar drenched instrumental Look Away, Look Away closes the album with a flourish.
If they were a new band without any background story there’d probably be considerable excitement about them. Their lack of youth shouldn’t put anyone off, this album has considerable appeal for both the country rock crowd and the indie crowd in equal measure.
1. The Assignment
2. Sorrel Hill
3. Portuguese Trucks
4. The Fourteenth Floor
5. Queen of Time
6. The Seven Years’ War
8. You Say The Same Thing Twice
9. Playground of the Rich
10. Silver River
11. Look Away, Look Away
The Fourteenth Floor
Categories: Album Reviews, Best Albums, Header, Music
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