Dovecote is the new project led by Niall Colfer, and the self-titled album is a strong piece of work, containing the singer-songwriter’s best writing to date.
A quick note on the cover of the album – it has a beautiful picture where the viewer seems to be peering in to a lit room as if being invited in to listen to the album. Let’s hope lots of people do, because this is a rewarding piece of work by Niall and his collaborators Sean Coleman, Barry Smullen and Mark Kelly.
The album opens with the spritely horn-inflected For the Best, before slowing down a little with track two – Reflections, a stately number with echoes of The Band, or perhaps even Sufjan Stevens. This song is a good indicator of the quality of tunes and hooks on the album. It’s almost as if Colfer set out to write a smart modern indie-influenced album, but couldn’t help himself when these beautiful choruses and melodies came along, and as a result we get something even more rewarding.
The four musicians have crafted a hypnotic and layered album around these ten songs. Firstly we have guitars, keyboards, and bass along with strong drumming from Barry Smullen. From reading the credits on the album, it is fun to spot on what songs the extra instrumentation comes in – glockenspiel, wurlitzer, moog, steel guitar, and on a couple of occasions strings and horns. But these are all added in a subtle manner, and never overwhelm the songs.
The vocals are delivered by Niall Colfer in his normal expressive manner. He is not a ‘shouty’ singer, so the singing always feels like it is one of the instruments (in a good way). A case in point would be the song Water where we hear shades of Nick Drake, and on Blew Away with its reflective lyrics on the passing of time.
‘Dovecote’ washes over the listener very quickly, and indeed reveals even more on repeat listens. It has enough pop elements to deserve to be a hit, and enough song-writing and performance chops to please listeners with very broad tastes, thus making it an early contender for Irish album of the year.
‘Dovecoat’ is released formally via all usual formats this Friday 4th March. There is an album launch on the same day in the Unitarian Church in Dublin 2.