Michael J Sheehy is hardly the most well known musician around.Low profile is probably the best way of describing his public image. And therelease of his third album, ‘No Longer My Concern’, is hardly likely tochange things in this respect. But that’s not say that his latest release isa poor effort. On the contrary, it is the work of a skilled operator, butone who works on the margins of conventional popular music. So whilst ‘NoLonger My Concern’ is unlikely to shift thousands of units, it is likely tobe admired and loved by a significant minority.
Let’s be clear on one thing first though. Sheehy does not writeuplifting pop nuggets a la S Club 7 or any of the millions of identikitboybands. He mines an altogether deeper, darker seam. Recurring themes of”drinking, fucking and tragedy” mean that this is no walk in the Top 40park. Indeed it feels slightly odd that Sheehy wrote this collection in thesummer of 2001, given its melancholy character. You would imagine that thedepths of winter would provide his muse rather than the sunny delights ofsummer. He even had reservations about actually recording and releasing thematerial, due to its unsettling nature. ” Some of it is very personal and Iwas worried about hurting people and laying myself bare. I’ve thought manytimes since laying it down about scrapping it all….but here it is and I can’tapologise for that.” Indeed not, and there would be no need anyway.
Despite its downbeat persuasion, ‘No Longer My Concern’ stillmanages to come across as darkly humorous. Sheehy is an erudite storyteller,and through his complex but wry lyrics is able to inject a welcome lightnessof touch. In any case, track titles like ‘Donkey Ride Straight To Hell’ and’Ballad Of The Pissed Apostle’ are weird enough to raise a few chuckles.
The first song on ‘No Longer My Concern’ is only likely to raise agrimace however. ‘Distracting Yourself From The Doom’ is as pompous as thetitle suggests, with its melodramatic pianos and vocals strangelyreminiscent of the Beautiful South’s Paul Heaton (or is that just me?).Things pick up soon enough though with the single ‘Donkey Ride StraightTo Hell’. Despite its grainy texture, ‘Donkey…’ boasts a hypnoticallyuptempo beat and a workaholic bassline. It stands out by way of itsoriginality. From here on in only a few numbers disappoint. ‘Ballad Of ThePissed Apostle’ plods along painfully, whilst ‘Dark Country Moment’ istainted somewhat by the helium enhanced backing vocals. Happily though, thegood far outweighs the bad.
‘Modest Beauty’ is beautifully atmospheric, and ‘Pretty LittleBouquets’ is a hushed, understated little gem. Sheehy also shows flashes ofsonic invention too. ‘Mary, Bloody Mary II’ swaggers by on a crunchypercussive beat that is anything but routine in style. The stand out thoughis actually the hidden track, a worthwhile discovery. Slamming, loose limbedbeats are ably assisted by a menacing, roving bass, with Sheehy topping itall with a vocal delivery of Liam Gallagher-esque nonchalance. It feels outof place in regard to the other songs but is all the better for it, andclearly demonstrates the talents Sheehy has at his disposal.
Lacking in killer tunes as it is, this is a good rather than greatalbum, despite the aforementioned track. Still, if introspective but wrytales of life and love floats your boat you could do a lot worse. And letsbe honest, it would be rude not to sample an album with a track title’Donkey Ride Straight To Hell’, right?