Hailing from Limerick, Ireland, melodic guitar-based-rock maestro Fergal Nash returns with his latest album, On a Constant Roll. And when listening to these affecting, emotionally sung tracks, his stated meaning behind the album becomes clear: “The message from this album is one of defiance, and fighting your way through difficult periods in your life, coming out stronger at the end.” And I hear this in the music – in the struggle; the painfully maintained but never abandoned persistence; the swallowing shadow deflected by an unfaltering candle in the dark. I hear the aching resistance and the unyielding hope. It’s all there, and it’s all real. So, let’s talk about it.
Wait. Who does what?
Nash performed and recorded the vocals, guitar, bass, and basic drum tracks at his home studio in Kilcornan. Working with a producer for the first time, one Martin John, Nash sent him those primal tracks upon which John added additional guitars, keyboards, and backing vocals. And with Nash’s input, John produced, mixed, and mastered the album.
Now, let’s hit the album highlights:
The album opens with the mid-tempo “Walking Tall.” Nash’s voice is immediately striking; it’s vulnerable with a little warble; a little timidity at the very beginning of each vocal delivery. And there’s certainly strength there, but it’s in the midst of some tangling emotional impediment. This is a great and sonically spacious kickoff to Nash’s latest collection.
Track #2, “Spite Doesn’t Matter,” is all about ignoring the constant negative messaging from bullies and/or jealousy-harboring jerk-faces. This is an inspiring little piece with an extra boost from icy strings, and a means to overcome random and undeserved human harshness.
Track #4, “Crawl to the Shrine,” is a slightly darker piece that opens with dirty guitar chords and a clean, melodic guitar line. There’s a nice, fluttering arpeggio underneath granting some light to the song’s more earthy, sun-bereft bottom. A great bridge here, and some subtle accompanying strings before hitting that more melancholic final chord. Goooood stuff.
Track #6, the eponymous track, is a big-sounding song with opening guitars, pianos, and several vocals. Oh, yes….this is an epic one, transitioning from big musical actions to more reserved verses, and then back again (with a simple “Oh, oh, oooh”). And that bridge is leaner, lighter; there’s an organ with guitar pulled back. But the song is only hiding. Crouching. It returns with shoulders broad and chest puffed. This is a bold one, a densely layered one, and my second-favorite track.
Track #8, “Same Boat,” starts with an acoustic guitar joined by the album’s dirty guitar sound of choice. This one is slightly quirky; it’s expressing an awkwardness, but a rocky steadfastness.
“As It Is,” the final track, is Nash’s personal favorite — it’s something he never created before with a formerly untried mixture of loud and soft moments. Honestly, the opening is quite aggressive with gritty bass, rhythmic lower tom hits, and slightly delayed guitar lines. In a way, it reminds me of U2’s “Bullet the Blue Sky,” but with much larger, much sharper teeth. “As It Is” is powerful rock and roll. The desperation is there; the volatile mixture of anger and anguish; the urge to fight back – to hit back at any and all heckling elements currently within punching range. And there are moments when anger rules, and others where calm arrives – a series of brief respites gained more from exhaustion than resolution.
When it ends, it does so as it began – in anger and attitude, and with a lingering, pounce-ready rage.
But is it good?
Good grief, of course it is! With an incredibly emotive voice belting over nearly ignored, feeling-fueled rock and roll, Fergal Nash’s latest offering, On a Constant Roll, is an absolute triumph. Recommended!
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On a Constant Roll premieres 10/27/2023