Long before the Acton Bell of 2015, the literary Bronté sisters of the 19th century adopted pennames for their work because of their impression that ‘authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice’. Lesser known than her siblings, Anne Bronté accredited her work to Acton Bell.
Curiously though, Dez Foley’s music bears no apparent political or feminist message. Perhaps adopting another writer’s pseudonym is symbolic of his desire to distance himself from his material, which is deeply personal and sentimental, in order to maintain its objective quality.
There is a blissfully serene quality to ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’ which is immediately evident from the first track All The Saints which tells the classic tale of girl-meets-boy and then girl-and-boy-meet-life. Foley’s soft and delicate voice captures both the naivety of youth and later in the song the death of innocence. However, it is the ethereal melody that frames the story which warrants close inspection.
Simple aesthetics. Easy to do. Hard to get right. All The Saints is just one of nine examples that demonstrate Foley’s ability to create uncomplicated, down-to-earth music which is easy on the ear and gentle on the mind. It is often through such simplicity that real beauty, unfettered by overly contrived effort, can flourish.
It is a short and concise album, not tainted by excess or filler with each of the nine tracks clocking in around the three minute mark. Highlights include the opening track, I Won’t Pretend and Rude Health, though the whole album would do well during a hot summer (an Irish summer, mind you). A quality record.
With minimal social media presence and only basic information available, it is exciting to hear music on its own terms without knowing much about those creating it. It adds a mystical element to the material. Maybe the Bronté’s were on to something.