Padraig Jack (from the album Making Sand, Good Deeds Music) (by Chris Wheatley)
Ten miles off the West coast of Ireland, three rocky islands form a natural chain, as if to guard Galway Bay. These Aran Islands are both ancient and alive, replete with evocative locations such as the cliff-top fort, Dún Aonghasa, Worm Hole, and The Seven Churches. If landscape and culture shape music and art, the Aran islands must be the perfect place to produce songwriting talent. It is here that Folk-Rock singer-songwriter Padraig Jack was born and raised, and it is this locale, he says, which deeply influences his music. The son of songwriter Barry Ronan, nephew to the poet Mary O'Malley, Jack is a renowned performer and constant radio presence in his native country. He sings in both Gaelic and English.
Padraig Jack’s new album, Making Sand, contains a little bit of magic. Lead single “Minnie” provides a good overview. This is personal songwriting, a character-sketch in musical form. Underpinned by acoustic guitar, the song is a beautifully understated slice-of-life that shimmers gently with subtle harmonies and orchestral touches; piano notes fall like rain-drops, backing-vocals swell in gorgeous waves. ‘And Minnie's happy now, she found love, somehow’, Padraig's vocals are smooth with a pleasingly rough edge, affecting and honest. “Minnie” is lush and glowing, arranged and produced with broad impressionist brush-strokes and plenty of polish and warm tones, yet retaining a spark of rawness.
At times, Padraig Jack pushes a little further into Rock territory. “Let It Shine” rolls on a bed of sparkling electric guitar, with shuffling drums and double-time tambourine. This is a writer and composer of notable talent. Hooks abound, with memorable choruses and sing-a-long accessibility, but they are never ostentatious or cheaply packaged. “Let It Shine” pulls at the heart and soul, communicating an earnest spirit. The music is instantly appealing yet sacrifices nothing to the altar of easy commercialism. The proof comes with repeated listens. Making Sand is full of subtle touches and contains more than enough depth to engage at every level.
The title-track is a gently affecting number. ‘An ancient language is ingrained out here, a Celtic culture still maintains, dear’. It's a measure of Jack's ability that the underlying hip-hop drums and ghostly, echoing vocals sound as natural and mysterious as the landscape in which he was raised. Pipes, keys and strings swirl and blend and pull apart. There's a deeply romantic core to Making Sand, but Padraig Jack is too talented ever to veer into saccharine territory. Authenticity is his hallmark.
“Black Drapes” lilts and sparkles like a glimpse of the sun on an overcast day. Studio touches such as electronic reverberations, programmed beats and multi-tracked vocals are handled with such warmth and nuance that they add to and enhance the song. Padraig Jack is certainly cinematic in his scope, willing to explore new techniques and add fresh sounds. You can be sure, though, that he will never lose touch with his literal and metaphorical roots. Purists may balk a little, but then purists always will.
For the rest of us, Making Sand is a long, lazy Sunday of an album, a fine balance of ease and depth. It will stir your heart and calm your mind, and will doubtless inspire you to seek out more of Padraig Jack's work. (by Chris Wheatley)
Listen and buy the music of Padraig Jack from AMAZON
For more information head on over to the Padraig Jack website