Perhaps the most frustrating trend of the unsigned artist at present is the notion that an idea is enough. A grand concept and vision can airbrush the lack of imagination and trick the ear into acceptance. Brendan Flynn typifies this theory. What is intended throughout the music is clear. The problem is, how far ‘All Work and No Play’ falls short in achieving that goal can at times make for an uncomfortable listen.
Kicking off with The Blind Patriot it’s capparent that Flynn has big ideas hampered by poor execution. Electronic string arrangements cheapen a song that is all too aware of its own efforts to tug on the heart strings.
More unpleasant is that Flynn’s contrived vocal performance constantly reaches for a range that is never there. The acoustic leanings of the song abruptly giving way to a Phantom Of The Opera style chorus land Flynn somewhere between Ed Sheeran and Evanescence. It’s that lack of focus that makes one wonder who this is all actually aimed at.
It’s not all as bad as this. The Apology is a distinct improvement. Stripped of the big budget production, it floats along nicely with simple acoustic guitar and vocals. It feels less contrived and more honest than the opener; it’s not unique in any way but at least it’s authentic.
Softly I Crept is by far the strongest offering here, showing a fight in Flynn that is only hinted at throughout the album. The most discouraging thing is that despite the promise, it’s always quickly undone with clumsy cuts like There’s Something, which is a muddled meandering mess.
There are shoots of promise here but the overall picture is one of inconsistency and a lack of focus. Too often the songs swing awkwardly between post-grunge emo aggression to uninspired singer-songwriter territory, leaving the whole thing noteworthy for its sheer lack of imagination. If Flynn showed more focus and honed his execution the results would be much more effective.