Album Review

Ultan Conlon – There’s a Waltz

Irish singer-songwriter, Ultan Conlon delivers a quality and highly enjoyable fourth album in There’s a Waltz.

Release Date: 17th April 2020

Label: DarkSideOut Records

Formats: CD / DL

There’s A Waltz from Loughrea, Galway singer-songwriter Ultan Conlon, follows 2018’s breakthrough album, Last Days Of The Night Owl.  For this latest offering, recorded at the fabled Heritage Studios in Los Angeles, Ultan has selected a stellar lineup from the cream of LA’s sessioneers, including Don Heffington on drums, Sebastian Steinburg playing bass and some wonderfully mellow double bass, Tyler Chester on piano, Rich Hinman on soaring pedal steel and, to me the star of the show, Gabe Witcher on fiddle. 

It won’t be surprising if some of these names sound familiar, as these guys have featured on albums from artistes as varied as Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Neil Diamond, KD Lang, Paul Simon, Beck and St Vincent.

With such a talented lineup it was pretty critical that the production was done effectively and Grammy-winning Producer Sean Watkins has done a great job to deliver a well-balanced sound which allows the band to shine, without taking the focus from Ultan’s greatest asset – his voice.  Ultan’s voice has drawn comparisons with Roy Orbison, a quality that does come through, particularly on Where The Shadows Outgrow The Light but equally, his voice could also be compared to a softer, frailer version of that of Christy Moore.  Either way, the combination with the band’s presentation works a treat.

There are no ‘messages’ on this album; just simple, well crafted, well played, well sung, generally introspective songs. The musical style draws from blues, ballads, country and Celtic influences without dwelling too heavily on any of these.  It’s worth making particular mention of the instrumental contributions of Gabe Witcher, whose fiddle playing is exquisite throughout and a welcome feature of many of the songs and of the pedal steel work from Rich Hinman that plays a starring role on the title track, as well as on World From A Window and Where The Shadows Outgrow The Light.

All the songs are highly listenable, but I was particularly drawn to the bluesy A Long Way Back, Don’t Let Love Slip Away, which is the closest thing the album has to an anthem and the title track – a song of loneliness on which Sebastian’s double bass and Rich’s pedal steel combine to mesmerising effect.

Altogether, There’s A Waltz is an excellent piece of work; rich vocals and wonderful musicianship combining to deliver a quality and highly enjoyable album.

Listen to the title track here:

Ultan Conlon online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Soundcloud

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