ep review ~ 'man about a dog' ~ ruairi and the owls

Band Name: Ruairi And The Owls
Genre: Acoustic
For Fans Of: Daveit Ferris, The Feeling, NeverShoutNever
Location: Londonderry

Ultimately, Ruairi and The Owls debut is a charming batch of cheeky imagery, simplistic lyricism and a genuine warmth that at the very least, allows him to stand out from the 'sad songwriter' stereotype. There's a nice balance here between overdubbed electric guitars and the simple acoustics that form the basis of his sound. Opener 'Thaw' is the undoubted gem here, a song which takes the Jack Johnson styled innocence of the other three tracks out of the equation ~ leaving an enjoyable pop-song with not only an enthralling chorus, but lyrics of a borderline nihilistic nature; which makes an exciting change of pace.

"Girl we're all just chemicals,  no ghosts inside these skin and bones. 
 I know we're on our own.  So lie to me girl, lie to me girl"

As a songwriter, the man behind the moniker, Ruairi Connolly, has an undoubted ear for a melody, as each track has the potential to make you sing along. 'Memory Stick's gentle hop has a radio friendly swing that you imagine would go down very well live, even if there's a kick missing from this particular recorded version. Equally, with 'Egg and Spoon's 'The Feeling' inspired piano and harmony drenched verses you couldn't rule out day time radio play, though again, the intriguing dark undertones that filtered through on 'Thaw' just don't come, no matter how much you're willing it to.

Final track 'Contagious' retains the sugary-sweet melodies of the previous tracks, but we begin to see more of the artist here. Even if it does occasionally stray into 'too much information' territory ("those supple breasts,  that hang upon your chest..."), there's enough warmth here to reminisce with a NeverShoutNever quality attached. You're left feeling that Ruari and The Owls is an honest project, writing sweet songs, about sweet things.

That said, if he really wants to push on in Belfast and abroad, he may need to explore his darker side a little more. More of the 'Ben Howard pondering the nature of existence' that we hear on 'Thaw' please Ruairi.

Taylor Johnson

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