Writing a review for a bad album is extremely difficult. More often than not you are stuck with it for a week, labouring through the tracks in an attempt to form a balanced and fair opinion without coming across as cruel. For me it just sucks the enjoyment out of music for those seven days. On the flip side when you unearth a gem like Irishman David Hope’s second album ‘Scarecrow’ you find yourself forgetting about the review and the deadline and just playing the album because the music really is just that good.
‘Scarecrow’ is an 11 song folk fuelled affair that opens itself to easy comparisons lyrically, vocally and musically to the likes of Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Ray LaMontagne et al. It’s a bit of a surprise that David has flown under the radar somewhat both in Ireland and internationally.
His sophomore album starts off with the track Hell or Highwater. His growling voice is obvious from the beginning despite the song starting off low. Towards the end it builds towards an interesting combination of instruments including a slide guitar that sets the tone for the rest of the album.
The album rumbles on with one impressive song after the other. The title track Scarecrow is a chillingly aggressive song thanks to David’s unique voice and interesting lyrics. Let Her Go is a song that deals with matters of the heart. It shows Hope’s impressive musical talent, and despite the guitar being the only accompanying instrument, the song makes as strong an impression as everything that came before it.
‘Scarecrow’ is an album that changes emotions as often as it changes instruments. Usually this would kill the flow from song to song but the production here is faultless and everything just works, all the while giving us an insight into the artist and his life experiences. The final track of the album Someone Else’s Mind is a truly haunting and thought provoking song about the loss of a friend through depression and suicide.
Again, accompanied with just a guitar, David leads us through a very dark and largely taboo subject in modern Irish culture. With lyrics like “It’s as common here as rain, so much confusion hurt and shame, but still carries on” and “the numbers they don’t lie, if this was war in which they died, there’d be thousands out walking in the streets” the whole song will stay with you long after you have moved on. It is a beautiful tribute and fitting end to an album that I will definitely come back to again.
Thanks to Goldenplec’s charity event Coast to Coast Tea and Toast I was lucky enough to see David play live. His songs sound just as good in the grounds of Bunratty Castle as they do on CD which says a lot for an artist currently touring Ireland and Europe.