Eoin Harrington's groovy soft rock is another in a seemingly endless sequence of capable new pop music releases flying about under the radar. Elevating it well above the merely capable — and, if things continue to go well for him, into the radar — are consistently good songwriting and tasty singing.
The opener, "Close Proximity," is a nice dash of soulful pop, but the second track, "Move Along," boasts a memorable, slowly building hook that better announces Harrington as a top-notch writer. In the good-natured "Piano Player" he lets his falsetto flag fly; while he doesn't have the strongest voice in pop, it's a winning and flexible instrument, and he has a solid mastery of how to use it to the music's best advantage.
"They Won't Catch Us Now" melds a subtle jazz-pop verse with a passionate chorus – Rickie Lee Jones meets Ben Folds. Here we're already four songs in and at the point of expecting the songwriting to weaken, but the CD turns out to have no filler. "So Wrong" starts out slight but ends up one of the strongest tracks with a sweet little hook and a big dramatic build-up. "Beautiful Thing" feels a little like a lost George Harrison track, while "Addicted” has a sweeping, Elvis Costello-like soulfulness.
Harrington's Irish roots, baked with soul from living in the US, comes through in various vaguely worldly flavors, though "Never Be Lonely" would have fit right in at a 1970s concert by Bread or the Atlanta Rhythm Section. "Already Done" fuses soul with a splash of middle-America guitar rock, while "Gave It All Away" shows again his gift for slipping a mild but insistent hook into a dreamy song. By contrast, the happy, reggae-flavored "Last Temptations" is also one of the catchiest tracks (despite the presence of a whiny guest vocalist).
Think of the burning vitality of Tori Amos's first couple of albums before she lost interest in engaging her audience, and you can get a sense of what Harrington accomplishes with this excellent disc. Reflecting its title, Story, the CD closes with "Is It Over?" – a finely drawn portrait of frustrated love. "Will he be able to find it one more time?" the singer asks. The song's "two lost souls" manage to connect, but "he just kept her guessing, he never learned his lesson, and now she cries."
While Harrington's characters may not all find their holy grail of contentment, the songs he writes about them are totally satisfying.