What to say about a talent that quite clearly demands a wider audience than it currently enjoys other to state, straight-faced and matter of fact in tone: buy this single.
Shiels is an Irishman with a heart full of Alabama soul and suffering, bluegrass my-woman-left-me illness all bottled up and backwater revenge fantasies, shovels in the back of a pick-up; his veins run single malt, his breath fogs a window pane brown with cigarettes and the musty air of a hundred dives already played, already conquered. His vocals aren’t pained, as such, but convey weighty emotions in simple words that few other songwriters can better. The headliners he’s played under already – Cat Power, Antony and the Johnsons – must’ve held their breath every time he sighed another line from his well-thumbed songbook, each lingering print made in blood and tears.
‘We Are Of Evil’ swells with fuzz-toned full-band drama, Shiels ably assisted by a backing band of some note. It shifts and swells, crashing against the rocks of hurt and shame, anguish rendered through amplified guitars in need of long-forgotten TLC. But Sheils’ ability to carve heart shapes from solid gravestones is most masterfully demonstrated on the flip side, ‘I’d Go To Funerals’. It’s easily on a par with Cat Power’s ‘The Greatest’ in terms of sweetly affecting singles of 2006, so far; every single strum of the guitar causes a soul, somewhere, to weep silently.
So, return your eyes to that first paragraph. Do as it says.
8Mike Diver's Score