Welcome to the world of Irish country music! There is a considerable and committed audience for American country music in Ireland, to the point where it’s often impossible to work out where the artist comes from. This is the case here.
I guess the biggest compliment I can give the recording is it’s an album of country music, sure some will be all snobby and say it’s not written and recorded by a true American who has lived the life and breathed the American air but to them I say get off the fence and widen your horizons because tucked away in the South East of Ireland is someone so steeped in the genre that it feels like bourbon pours from his fingers and over the guitar strings.
Blessed with a gravelled voice that suits his music perfectly McLoughlin mixes his country with a hint of blues and a knack for storytelling. Here he has teamed up with producer Philip Donnelly who has worked with some big names in the industry, Donovan and the Everly Brothers jump out immediately, and Tony’s time in Nashville saw him rubbing shoulders with some fine musicians and it’s pretty clear that those contacts have left their mark.
I think the real strength of the album lies in its ability to welcome fans of country but also has enough oomph in its production to welcome fans of acoustic-based rock too.
We don’t really fall head-first into pure country until track three ‘The Colour of Spring’ that employs slide guitar, female backing vocals and a melody that June Carter would have gobbled up. It’s a throw back to 70’s country, a ballad unashamed to pronounce emotions that other genres would shy away from. It’s catchy and impossible not to nod to.
Following track, ‘True Native,’ has a strange percussion under the song, (a nod to the native Americans?) that rattles and clicks along – having listened to it in the car, made me wonder if something was loose under the bonnet – set against nice, relaxed guitar, and repeats the trend that good songs seem to be built on a foundation of a good lyric. It’s a wonder more people don’t mention McLoughlin in the same breath as the tide of country artists that seem to be popping up all over Europe.
Experience McLoughlin’s music for yourself, I very much doubt you’ll leave disappointed.