Reekus - 2005 - 47 minutes

There's a theory about recording albums which says that artists should always play back their work on the cheapest equipment imaginable - if it still sounds good, they're doing well. Not even a soon-to-expire walkman can take away from some of the moments on Hopkins' full-length debut.

Once the keyboard player and main songwriter with Irish rockers Lir, Hopkins decamped to the US, became a session player, walked away from music for a while and then came back. His return will give fans of the downbeat one thing to smile about, but 'Amber and Green' also shows that Hopkins is at his best when he's adventurous with his sound.

The highlights largely come in the first half of the album where the spiky pop singalongs of 'British Boys' and 'Then There's None' sit alongside the overcast title track and 'You're Some Kind of Christian'. In the latter stages, 'Ginger Hair' aside, 'Green & Amber' suffers from having too many tracks of the same tempo all together.

There's a line in one of Hopkins' songs about taking a guitar and doing something that's already been done. While 'Amber & Green' will feel familiar to many, when the songs are as strong as many of these, you can always find room for them.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: You're Some Kind of Christian - Amber & Green - British Boys - Then There's None - You've Got to Suffer - Somebody's Gonna Lose Somebody - Scared Rabbit - Jackson - Ginger Hair - One Dark Morning - My Time is Running Out - I Can't Speak Your Name - The End