REVIEW: Fionn Regan’s “Cala” is Pristinely Finger-Plucked Majesty


Fionn Regan’s Cala (Abbey Records), the Spanish word for creek, continues to build on Regan’s fascination with waterways and water imagery. His 2017 release, The Meetings of the Waters was released to critical acclaim. Cala finds Regan performing all the recording and performance duites himself and dives in deep to pristinely finger-plucked acoustic guitar majesty within just a few bars of the album opener, “Collar of Fur.”

Regan plucks his instrument with a precision and softness that would be eschewed by memories of hard-driving Appalachian banjo if the term picked was substituted for plucked. Regan’s voice pairs well with his guitar tone; the softness of both belies the depth hiding in each however. Regan weaves a dream-like world that needs little more that acoustic guitar and his voice; he expands his pallet throughout Cala well, however, first with vocal studio trickery on “The Ocean Wave.” The addition of an ominously hovering wave of tone deep in the mix adds to the feel of floating somewhere far at sea on an ocean wave. Programmed drum beats and almost feminine harmonies drift throughout the latter half of the piece bringing on a dramatic climax.

A spare piano joins the mix on “Volca” echoing the ghosts that Regan sings about, “let’s dive into the lasting night and swim towards the moon…let’s meet tonight down by the coast where ghosts of summer played”. He continues, “On the wild beach we’re gonna sleep until the beat kicks in,” Regan leaves us longing for said sleep and wondering if that sleep with be one night or some type of blissful Rip Van Winkle extended slumber. “Hunting Dog” finds Regan digging once again into water imagery, “oh I’m swimming towards the light…oh I need to find a way to float.” Water for Regan presents a recurring image of cleansing and safety. When wrapping in his instrumentation there is almost a warmth or cocoon feeling to Regan’s embrace of the ocean, the water, the sea.

“Under the Wave/Tokyo” closes the record on a somber note as sleep and water imagery surfaces again throughout, “I want to sleep for a day…under the waves…I felt frozen…I had to cross the ocean.” In a world that seems to run at an ever quickening pace driving increasing individual incidents of depression and anxiety, Fionn Regan’s Cala offers a short break from society’s building pressure. Regan’s stream-of-consciousness-esque dreamlike lyrics and complimentary musical tones invite the listener to drift beyond their mundane moment to a sacred place where music heals.

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