Mumblin' Deaf Ro works so many characters into an album that you would love to find out what would happen if he put down the acoustic guitar and started typing full-time instead.

'The Herring and the Brine' takes us into the lives of, among others, a drowning man, a groom-to-be, a former President of El Salvador, a man with three daughters and a novice priest. Each story is as compelling as the next, made vivid by the humorous ("I learned all about the fingers and the fires/Warned not to play Frisbee near the wires") and insightful ("You can pity them but how do you forgive someone you know isn't sorry?") lyrics and tender vocals of their creator.

What's just as interesting about this record is that it sounds like one minstrel's quest to distance his music from everyone else's. Such fearlessness is unusual - and deserves to be rewarded.

Harry Guerin