Villain - 2003 - 47 minutes

Do we need yet another Irish folkster pining and penning timeless tales to remind us of the futility of it all? In an effort to stem the flow of polished and produced pap and pop out there, it seems that, yes, we do. And this offering from Mumblin' Deaf Ro has a certain antidotal and anecdotal charm that belies its home produced quality.

On first listen the low production values don't do this songster any favours. However, beyond the hiss of the seemingly beloved Roland VS-880 (see cover notes) recorder, lies a talented songwriter showcasing his obvious potential.

Although a homegrown affair, on 'Senor, My Friend' Ro enlists the help of fellow musicians who add a more professional air to proceedings, most notably on 'What's That Sound?' which evokes a retro pop sensibility reminiscent of the Thrills.

Taking his cue from the mellow sounds of Nick Drake and the deceptive simplicity of the Leonard Cohen, Ro sings of longing, wasted chances and lost opportunities. However, this musician need not fear such traps as he's placed his courage in his convictions and wasted no time creating his own opportunities on a self produced CD worthy of a decent record deal. A valuable lesson to us all.

Elizabeth O'Neill

Tracklisting: Every Now and Then She Gets a Moment -    These Men Get Paid to Know - Can't Help Fading to Grey - Keep the Line Movin' - This Simple Life - It Never Even Entered My Mind - The Hero is a Graduate - What's That Sound? - Caledonian Friend - The Ballad of Lonesome Ray James