'Little Calm' review - Triggerfish (Jan Wölfer) June 2018
Morgan Finlay is a Canadian-Irish singer / songwriter who has lived in various parts of the world for many years and is artistically inspired by the respective locations, which then flows into his music. Currently his base is Hamburg - where he created his new album "Little Calm". At a young age, he learned that he was in high debt for the production of his debut EP "Uppercut" (2002). As a result, he began crowdfunding for the last albums while going with something quite unique for the format of his albums: He offers his music in different quality levels as a download, bypassing the CD entirely. Alongside the digital downloads, he produced booklets in the format 15 x 15cm, which are beautifully designed lovingly and in addition to the lyrics also contain many photos of the respective places where the music was created.
"Little Calm" is now his "Hamburg-Album", recorded and produced together with Bente Faust in Off Ya Tree Studio in Moorfleet. While the recording was done on analog gear to multi-track tape, the tracks were processed digitally for the mix. 10 songs that describe places in Hamburg under many lights, but of course people, their feelings, relationships or actions. He is accompanied by Hamburg musicians. The arrangements are carried by his acoustic guitar, but bring full band sounds, without being overburdened at any point. Jürgen Hoffmann plays wonderful acoustic guitar solos and the rhythm section with bassist Hajo Cirksena and drummer Alex Jezdinsky perform very tastefully and in sync.
The Irish roots are clear in the songs and the way Morgan Finlay plays them. This is most evident in the final track "Celtic Tiger", a love song that Finlay wrote to his partner, whom he met in Nuremberg at a living room concert and now lives with in Hamburg. Elsewhere on the album you can hear a sound reminiscent of "Fisherman's Blues", the waterboys legendary fourth album, and also the passion that Finlay puts into his talk makes you think of Mike Scott. His songwriting plays with well-known elements, but makes them his own and even if a reference can be found for every chord or melody arc, it remains an independent work that immediately wins the listener.
The ten songs of the record can all convince. The album starts with "Tugboat" and "You Do It To Yourself". "Tiny Stages" then thrilled in a very reduced arrangement, which comes closest to the way Morgan Finlay currently plays live - solo, acoustically. "Fortune Cookie" brings life back to the booth and "Slip & Fall" is another highlight.
Morgan Finlay's "Little Calm" proves that great music can now be produced in crowdfunding-funded settings. His records are available at bandcamp.com - if you want to buy the books you have to look under "Merch". Alternatively, you can of course also look on his website, if there is an opportunity to experience it live and to buy the books directly from him. It is worth it!
Rating: 5 out of 6
Live review - Hagen Thiele (Rack N Roll, Remscheid) Oct 2013
This is steady and quite hearty fare. Finlay hails from Canada and has a more broad based style than that of many on the East Canada folk scene. There is a light rock beat through much of this singer songwriter material. His voice is like a more spritely Richard Buckner and is inviting enough to bring you into his music. Like just about any album, some songs resonate stronger than others. I appreciated the folkier numbers, but there were only a couple that really stood out as keepers for the relisten pile. He is worth a listen and will succeed with a lot of fans of good songwriting.
Live review - Thomas Richter (Prinz Willy, Kiel) April 2012
Canadian born singer/songwriter, Morgan Finlay, released his fourth full length album, “Fault Lines”, in October. It was crowdfunded in close collaboration with the fans and released only on iTunes.
So much for the bare facts but what about the music? I instantly liked it; it drew me in with the very first song. Finlay’s voice is just a little bit rough – it sounds as if he has “lived a little” and that fits perfectly for the storyteller he is. And his stories are well worth listening to, no matter if he talks about things happening “lifetimes and memories ago” (Blow By Blow) or “managing my hurt” after a love has ended (Stand Here Alone). All the lyrics made me want to take a second look or a third. My personal favorites, however, are “The Fisherman’s Son” for its mysterious mood and “Lovers C T D H L” for its melancholia and haunting guitar melody.
The instrumentation of guitars, piano, drums and more is always interesting and goes well with the story the song tells. As a whole, the album flows nicely from one song to the next, sometimes with a Country-ish feel (Fault Lines), sometimes reminding me of Joan Baez (Take This With You) and sometimes just a stripped down guitar (Your Quiet Place). No song is like the other, yet the style remains recognizable throughout. Overall an album that makes me want to check out what else Morgan Finlay has published.
Musik an Sich
This singer/songwriter comes from Canada, from Vancouver to be precise.Meanwhile he can look back on three record releases since 2005, as well as two EPs, as early as 2002 and 2005.
But he was already musically active in the 1980s, partly even as a member of opera performances and with his own a cappella band, back in 1992.
His latest recording is currently only available as digital download. While Finlay already financed his third album through Crowdfunding, which is rather popular with artists, he now called upon his listeners to do the same thing again, in order to deliver his fans a flawless final product including a beautiful booklet.
The music heads towards folk music, under the umbrella of the singer/songwriter genre. Quite down-to-earth the protagonist tells us little stories, which are mostly acoustically arranged and presented with a pleasantly smooth charisma.
He does this in an easy and relaxed way, and in addition to some quite minimalistic tracks there are others, which are harmoniously supported by skilled musicians. And then, with the title song, a hint of Country sneaks in.
His way of writing songs, as well as the timbre and voice leading remind me more than once of Jules Shear, one of those great songwriters, who never made it to the top. Perhaps this will also happen to Finlay, just because his music is so down-to-earth. Nevertheless, his pleasant music will definitely ensure that he will always have a circle of affectionate fans.
Because whatever he delivers is worth to be heard.
Morgan Finlay, Canadian by birth and Irish by choice, launched “Fault Lines” via the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo and by financing his records through his fans, he receives recognition for his calm tales told against a musically conservative background.
Phrases such as Americana, Folk and Alternative Country come easily to mind when listening to the fourth album of the lone wolf. His charm (which many releases of the last few years in this genre lack) arises primarily from the artist’s origin or adapted way of life, which is audible in his songs: “The Everything About Me”, for instance, has right away much of a British shanty to it (also due to the accordion), while “Stations”, which is, up to the end, promisingly drifting on strings and woodwind players, fosters the epic landscapes of Finlay’s homeland, just as the gentle “How Would I Know” on the other hand, reveals a glimpse of the songwriter school of various heartland-rock-protagonists.
“All of me Key” could have been written by Chris Rea, the cozily rumbling “The Fisherman’s Son” sounds similar to a young Tom Waits, advertising for Kerrygold, while the cheerful tracks “Blow By Blow” and “Fault Lines” sound like a slowed down jug band, just as slowing down – another one of those cliché phrases – could represent the overall motto of the bard. Not only when it turns episodic (the short pair of ballads “Stand Here Alone” and “Take This With You”), MORGAN FINLAY confines himself to the essentials to meditate his quiet thoughts; “Fault Lines” is generally seen not an epitome of wit, but it dances elegantly and cleverly on the emotional keys of his listeners.
CONCLUSION: For 13 songs MORGAN FINLAY doesn’t chat, as other singers do with their travel guitar; sometimes he rebels cautiously, then again he seems to be sad, and in the end he seems to have left out the actual hits, unlike his more prominent “Everything Will Work Out Right”, but he has relaxed, just like the listener, without denying him content worth considering – this man is, after all, a true storyteller.