After a five year hiatus you will be forgiven if you have forgotten about Paddy Casey. Let’s refresh your memory: he began his career 14 years ago in the late 90s’. In 2003 he released his best known song Saints and Sinners; an acoustic-pop song that took over the Irish airwaves, and many Irish hearts for at least a couple of years. That is the most outstanding piece of music Casey has released to date, and in 2007 after a rather lacklustre album ‘Addicted to Company’, he seemed to slip off the radar completely. Now, in late 2012, he is back with his fourth studio album ‘The Secret Life Of’. His forth studio album in almost four times as many years, so there is a certain level of expectation that comes with it.
The album opens on the subdued, Disney like, There is a Light. This song is a long, drawn out affair at just over five minutes and with nothing entirely remarkable among the lyrics or musical arrangement. Thankfully this is a light that does go out, as this track goes on far too long for one so nondescript. There are some moments that truly make you wonder; what has Casey spent the last five years doing? Show Me Yours is a catchy number and it is likely to garner some attention from mainstream radio stations. However, despite the increase in tempo and the somewhat risqué double entendre, it is a wash-out of a song; it is in no way aurally titillating. It is a clear attempt to add a hint of rock to the album with this track, but it would seem his definition of rock does not coincide with the more widely accepted inference of the genre. The album continues with a number of tedious tracks which echo his more generic days, such as Tell Her.
One commendable thing about Casey is that he has tried in his most recent albums, to stand aside from the plethora of mopey Irish male artists and mix things up. With tracks like Tell Her on this new album, he has shown that perhaps his roots are in the weepier end of the musical spectrum but if that is the case, perhaps a little more passion could have been instilled into the deliverance.
There are more impressive moments on ‘The Secret Life Of’, such as It’s Really Up To You. A chill down your spine track with a smooth, middle-aged alt-rock feel to it, made all the more emotive with the inclusion of the choir. It is one of the more ominous tracks on the album with beautiful vocal harmonies, exceptional chill-out listening. Another stand-out is Wait. It is the leading single from the album, is funky, up-beat and has a nonsensical element to it which makes it endearing. This song typifies Casey’s efforts to seem more experimental than his counterparts and he does it very well here; he is not afraid to step outside his comfort zone, and he seems to work better outside it anyway. This song proves that Casey still has the talent and the whimsical nature to write a fun, sing-a-long song.
Five years is a long time between albums and any fans of Paddy Casey will have expected a well-worked collection of songs. With many unremarkable tracks and only two worthy of a re-listen, this is a disappointing album. Casey has the talent and has proven so in the past, so it is almost unfathomable that, given the time he had to work on this album, it is slightly below of average. A lot has changed in the Irish music scene since 2007; there are more ballsy bands and artists with a strong force behind them, in the form of massive social media followings. Many of them are creating mind-blowing unique EPs and albums, the likes of which have not been heard in Ireland for decades. If Casey wishes to remain as one of the darlings of Irish music, he is going to have to step up his game if this album is anything to go by.