Deadslackstring Records - 2003 - 29 minutes

The debut album from Old Man Polka brings the music of Steve Fanagan to the public in yet another guise, following his various releases under his own name and with the group 'Dead Mans Flats'. Fanagan contributes to the Irish music scene on many levels, producer and singer among them, so it is perhaps fitting if a little disappointing that this record is indicative of much of the output of our home-grown musicians at this time.

Opening with the hypnotic 'All This Time', a lullaby that is possibly the best song of the seven on show here, Fanagan proceeds to plough a furrow familiar to anyone who has purchased an album by an Irish singer-songwriter in the last few years. That this is the case is not necessarily all a bad thing, high production values and heartfelt music are certainly signatures of this record.

Where it does fall down is in an inability to add style to the undeniable substance on show, a reluctance to wrap more music around the lyrics. Without this it is hard to find a reason to elevate this above the countless other records whose traits it shares. An intimate, downbeat mood is effortlessly conveyed, yet predictably continued with songs such as 'Space in Breath' and 'Timelessness', and in truth there are no bad tracks to speak of.

This music is well produced and delivered with conviction, this is an album that does little wrong but unfortunately little else.

Ray Donoghue

Tracklisting: All This Time - Space in Breath - Look How We Have Grown - Timelessness - Heading West to Get East - Winter Warm - Flame