Sophisticated, tuneful, soul-inflected pop is Eoin Harrington’s specialty, and his new disc is loaded with it. The singer-songer and multi-instrumentalist has composed 11 songs infused with that unusual combination of yearning and joy you find in some of the greats like Paul Simon and Neil Finn. A retro sensibility informs much of the album, as in the funky-soulful arrangements of songs like the sublimely catchy “Whatever I Want to Say” and the Al Green-esque “Now or Never,” and even in the piping synths of the glorious title track. But the clarity and freshness of the production and of Harrington’s singing sound totally up-to-date, as do the playful lyrics sprinkled through songs like “I Love It.”
The album is divided into two parts. The first, “Let It Out,” features songs urging carpe diem (“Now or Never,” “Speak Your Mind”), though the thoughts aren’t always precisely what’s expected. “I will never leave ’cause you see things a little different, things that others miss…Let me speak your mind,” he sings as he closes the first section with that rarity, a real adult love song.
In the second section, “Hold It In,” things grow wistful and pleading. “Before I Fall” expands from subtle quiet to a flowery bridge and a final cry of regret: “I lost it all.” Harrington’s keening tenor is at its most affecting on the deceptively understated “Help,” which suddenly becomes a duet with a female voice that urges, “You’ve got to let me go.” But Harrington’s narrator responds in “I’m Sorry,” “If I say I’m sorry one more time, baby would you stay?”
By the end of the disc you feel he’s earned the soft pleading of the ballad “Hear Me Love,” with lyrics that on paper would seem trite, and the emotional obviousness of “New Years Day,” which brings to mind Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson.
So Confess is really like getting two albums (or substantial EPs) in one; instead of interspersing sad or plaintive songs with up tunes, Harrington gives each type its own space, and the result is an unqualified success. Despite its variety of moods, Eoin Harrington’s new album makes a thoroughly joyful noise.