A sincere, soulful and accomplished album.
‘Another End to a Year’ is the first full release by award-winning songwriter Connor Garvey since 2014. According to its press release, the album has had a long and ‘perilous’ gestation. One wouldn’t know: the album delivered by Garvey and his band is a fine piece of work – a good testament perhaps to persistence and maturing craft.
Opening track ‘The Boat’ sets a high bar, an emotive and atmospheric rumination on helplessness and healing. Garvey’s plaintive vocal line (“Broken pieces will never heal the same”) is set against a beautiful arrangement perfectly attuned to the song’s theme. There is a nice counterbalance between the guitar’s rhythmic pulse and the more languid, flowing vocals and lead lines.
Previous single ‘Water to the Well’ brought to mind the organic rootsy-rock sound of Shawn Colvin/John Levanthal – the smooth Rhodes, acoustic guitar and slightly dirty guitar creating a warm setting for Garvey’s vocals. This and other tracks also share a similar sound with more contemporary acts like the Bros Landreth, but here the additional vocals and skillful harmonies of Sorcha Cribben-Merrill add a key texture and interest.
It was interesting to read that outside of music Garvey is a skilled group facilitator. His work involves “bringing people together to find common experience and purpose”. Perhaps this explains the quality of the musical arrangements on the album. Garvey’s band are clearly not just accomplished musicians, but skilled collectively at producing finely balanced arrangements that really serve the songs. There is space and complementarity between musical ideas that comes from listening, as one might find in an effective dialogue.
Of course, conflict and tension can also be important elements of creativity too. Garvey’s music has just enough grit and lyrical interest to avoid the smoother elements of the music becoming something merely bland. The opening track hinted at a deeper seam that might be worth mining further in future.