Conor Quinn & The White Chalk A finalist on The Voice of Ireland in 2011, Conor Quinn has spent the past two years out of the limelight, writing music and quietly honing his act. It’s proved a productive period for the young singer-songwriter. Auditions in March of this year lead to the formation of his backing band The White Chalk. Spells in the studio with producers Tom Fuller (Tinchy Stryder, Amy Winehouse) and Philip Magee (Kodaline, The Script) resulted in his début EP ‘Golden Kids’.

Opening with The Architects; a haunting string laden number that has a Florence and The Machine vibe to it. The similarity is mostly brought on via the vocals; Quinn much like Florence Welsh possesses a soaring voice that demands attention. Wolf Watching is of a similar ilk. Beginning with Quinn crooning over some deftly plucked guitar strings before the tempo kicks up a few notches through the verse and chorus. Adopting a more minimalist arrangement, this one is closer in sound to Ben Howard, a little too close perhaps but another fine song nonetheless.

The next two songs are ballads and neither really hits the mark. Fade to Grey’s production does it no favours. Everything is far too clean and spit-shined, giving it an over cooked feel. Atlanica is slightly better; the smooth piano playing giving the song some extra bite, but once again there’s an air of self-indulgence to proceedings. Finishing with a flourish, Quinn leaves the best to last with the excellent ‘Carnival of Light’ an upbeat mandolin driven number. Quinn really finds his voice on this one. It’s an effortless and infectious pop song; complete with a warm glow that makes it made for radio.

The singer-song-writer market is over saturated to put it mildly and while Quinn’s baroque vocal style gives him distinction it’s not enough to elevate him above the pack on his maiden release. He’s written some fine pop songs, but despite the positives there’s an overbearing sense of familiarity to the EP. It’s just too generic, with little to separate it from your average run of the mill pop offering. At 24, Quinn is still young and has plenty of time ahead of him though. This is a promising début and if he can distance himself musically from his influences and find his own style he will go places. For the moment though, ‘The Golden Kids’ is a EP that’ll appeal to fans of Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard, but is otherwise not essential.