Finnian – Under the Influence: Album Review

Under The Influence is the culmination of 2 years’ hard graft for Dundalk-based artist Finnian. The result is a collection of mature, polished and accomplished songs.

Release Date: 24th July 2020

Label: Blackmountain Records

Formats: CD / DL

Under The Influence, is the debut album from Irish singer/songwriter, Finnian.  His three singles, Where We Go (2019), Even Flow (2019) and this years I Don’t Want To Fall In Love have established a growing reputation for this emerging talent in his native land. The singles are all featured on this collection which, for the first time, gives those of us on this side of the Irish Sea a chance to see what the fuss is about.

The album is the culmination of 2 years’ hard graft for the Dundalk-based artist and the result is a collection of mature, polished and accomplished songs, ably produced by Peter Baldwin and Grammy-winning engineer, Ben Kane.  The description of the songs as well-crafted pretty well nails it.  The instrumentation is fairly understated throughout the album, leaving plenty of room for Finnian’s strong vocal and intriguing lyrics. That instrumentation – versatile keyboards, funky bass, crisp drums and tasty guitar, all topped off with sprinklings of sax and some wonderful backing vocals, suits the songs perfectly. 

The songs themselves range from funky, warm and soulful offerings to confident, strutting rockers and the influences of Bryan Adams, Nile Rodgers and Bare Trees era Fleetwood Mac seem to pervade throughout.  The album’s sequencing concentrates the softer, more soulful songs at the start, before moving into raunchier territory later on. This ploy, whether real or imagined, adds to the enjoyment of a fine album.

The album kicks off with the previous single, Where We Go; a wistful love song that features some nice horn-effect keyboard touches and an enjoyable guitar solo that sets the scene for the rest of the album.  Tay is more light funk with similarly tasteful yet typically understated keyboard and guitar backing, as is the album’s second single, Even Flow. Don’t Want To See You Go adds a local touch to the theme, with its references to harbours and fishing boats, before developing into a lush, soulful ballad that would give Bryan Adams a real run for his money.

The middle section of the album comprises a run of what I consider to be the standout tracks. Out Of Sight is an intimate gospel-sounding number with some great organ and piano contributions; Fly, the new single, one of the rockier tracks with deep bass and fuzzy guitar cutting in after a build-up of raucous drums and soulful organ.  The Santana-like Lifted Up is another rocker with some excellent sax flourishes, before The Devil In The Flashing Lights takes us back to funk, with its solid bass line driving a compulsive, addictive beat.  Don’t Want To Fall In Love concludes the album with a bit of self-analysis about a possible relationship and contains the wonderful refrain, “I don’t want to fall in love, but maybe I might.

Under The Influence is a solid debut from an intriguing talent and fully deserves the attention of an audience over here in Blighty.  Sadly, the album’s press pack omits any details of the contributing musicians – it certainly would have been good to give credit to the bass, keyboard and guitar players, all of whom perform with great competence and subtlety throughout this album and to the backing vocalist(s) whose contribution is outstanding, particularly on Even Flow.  Well worth a listen.

Listen to Even Flow here:

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