A collaboration between Kilkenny based singer Nathan Conway and The River Valley Band, ‘Trillovision’ is an EP of soul music owing more to the well-weathered sounds of Detroit and New Orleans than those Celtic-infused melodies of their best known colleague and compatriot from the northern end of the island, Mr Van Morrison. With a kind of rock sensibility thrown into the mix it is not beholden to any single source of inspiration.
Singer Nathan Conway has a very malleable voice, changing drastically to suit each particular song. Visions of Ray Davies appear in the vocals for Fabrizio, a Dave Gilmour-esque intonation pops up on Goldmund, and All Your Other Men sounds not unlike Nick Cave in a jealous and fiery mood. In other words Conway’s voice is not soulful, he sings with attitude rather than with the smooth textures for which the genre is usually known. This is a step away from the simple soul music that the band plays and although it doesn’t always hit the mark it is commendable in its pursuit of originality.
The brass and saxophones seem like the most prominent instruments on the EP in that they appear to wrap like a blanket over the rest of the instruments, almost muffling them at times. Pretty Little Girl in particular has a notable saxophone section that merely floats up and down the scale, but it is curiously hypnotic and acts as a recurring theme in the song as it gets more upbeat and breaks into a call-response section.
Despite the good quality of song-writing on show it is the traditional American gospel song Rock O’ My Soul that is particularly memorable. Its optimistic driving rhythm and distinctly memorable melody deftly delivered by the band make it the EP’s highlight. Conway’s singing is more personal than the standard kind of country crooning or gospel singing it is usually treated with, which places it appropriately amongst the other songs on the album.
The songs on ‘Trillovision’ don’t approach the best of the genre – and for straight quality mass-appealing songs there is no better genre – but the no-nonsense rocking out style of the band mixed with the enthusiasm and memorability of the tunes make it a gallant effort.