Whimsical River Records - 2003 - 27 minutes

Half way through this album you find yourself surprised that the lack of variety on show here doesn't seem to matter. All the tracks on 'Will o' the Wisp' move at a similar pace, covering the same ground in different ways, but it seems to work. Ian Whitty has clearly marked his territory and here he sets about exploring it.

This Killarney native is not pushing any boundaries with this short, seven track album. What he does do however, he does well. These are quiet unassuming recordings that from time to time display a real knack for melody and sense of atmosphere.

Whitty evidently takes great care with the words, and this is lyrically dense stuff. On occasion the words are delivered at such pace, and with such careful phrasing, that they can seem to sit uncomfortably upon the tune.

He is at his best when he reins in his tendency to be overly wordy, allowing a repeated line or instrumental break to carry the song, and to let it breathe. Songs such as 'Two for Joy' and the title track are both examples of this, and both excellent.

All too often with solo singer-songwriters the actual music is relegated to just simple accompaniment for the vocal, using the lack of instruments as a short cut to an intimate sound. This album refuses to fall into that trap, utilising the accordion and violin to create a real sense of atmosphere, the additional instruments and in particular the strings complementing the songs well.

The last song is a poem set to music, and is the only questionable track on the album. It is inoffensive enough but, to be honest, I have yet to hear a spoken word track that doesn't sound pretentious.

Operating in a genre of music that has no shortage of young pretenders, being talented is no guarantee of success. Ian Whitty may yet become lost in the crowd, but this album will certainly prove a distinguishing feature.

Ray Donoghue

Tracklisting: Dusty Angels - Will o' the Wisp - Two for Joy - Wait till the Morning - The Whimsical River - Build you Wings - The Neon Show