‘Clocks’, the ever-dynamic Julie Feeney’s third self-produced album comes at a very strong moment in Irish music. Irish music in 2012 saw a burgeoning scene across multiple genres from folk singer song writers to hippity-hip-hip indie music bands gaining much acclaim, resulting in sell out venues up and down the country. Amongst all this excitement, all on it’s own, sits ‘Clocks’.
From the very first seconds of the record, with Dear John, Julie deploys her individualistic voice to initially jarring effect. Upon first listen, it’s hard not to sit up and take notice of this deep and brooding vocal. Once you have accepted the vocal for the intriguing and splendidly quirky facets it holds, you then start to listen to the world of aural pleasures that exist behind the voice.
From the delicate harp work on Cold Water to the more subdued utterances on Julia; the album begins with this magnificent flow that can enrapture the listener from the outset. Everything that surrounds the words and the vocals comes together like an unorthodox symphony – it shouldn’t work but it does.
Just A Few Hours is simply magnificent; a real ethereal type song that builds, dives and changes throughout. Lyrics like “Just a few hours in my heart before it’s shaking, I can tell you that I love you or I‘ll break it…” drip with raw emotion and passion.
If I Lose You Tonight stays closer to an old Irish folk sound where arrangements are kept simple with a more straightforward phrase book and pleasing vocal. It’s nice to hear this change halfway through the album with a more stripped back example of what Feeney evokes so naturally. The exquisitely elaborate and technical accompaniments on her records sometimes, unintentionally mask the poetic lyrics and powerful evocative vocal that is so clear on this track.
Moment changes the direction once more as a more modern and contemporary Feeney emerges with an altogether different approach. This is only before Every Inch A Woman comes and transports us back to the days of medieval tales of banquets, Kings and jolly townsfolk. This track follows a strict narrative about Catherina, a woman with darkness feeding on her soul. Despite the downfall of poor old Catherina’s luck; this song is a fun and uplifting ditty as Feeney adds another tick of oddity to the album.
Worry stands as the only jumbled song on the record. While all other songs on the album come together to make this magnificent smorgasbord of sounds that so effortlessly mould together, no note out-of-place or misguided, all seemingly serving a purpose. Worry unfortunately seems to miss the mark; so highly set from earlier tracks on the album.
Happy Ever After returns us to perfection with another stripped back performance, a lá If I Lose You Tonight from earlier in the album, before Imperfect Love rounds off the album in suiting style – pure bliss.
‘Clocks’ is an outstanding album from an Irish musical gem. This album is a masterpiece in Irish standards, by any standards in fact, and begs the question why other artists don’t push the boundaries and explore new musically territories so superbly as this. ‘Clocks’ proves that Julie Feeney is about as close as you can ever come to fully embodying a musical artisan.