John Cathal O'Brien's opus Acid Week is a visceral journey through the tangled and beautiful thoughts of a troubled troubadour. It is wrought with descending folk melodies and poetically condensed experiences of which the protagonist describes as a "life of transience". The songs feel as if they have been written over years, packed with elated evenings with friends and somber mornings all alone. The melancholy sound paired with a cover image that echoes Vincent van Gogh self-portrait gives an overwhelming feeling of being in the presence of a brilliant but estranged artist.
The opener "Leeches" sets the album up perfectly with it's expansive suburban imagery and drifting chords. Johns voice hovers in an strange octave high above the grounded instrumentation, conjuring up Antony and the Johnsons, while the song navigates the backroads and cafe's of a somewhat distant apocalyptic land.
Things never quite pick up after the initial blast of originality, which is indeed a powerful dose, but John has plenty of lovely tools to keep the listener entranced under his spell; namely his incredible lyrics. The title track "Acid Week" has a wonderful wilting quality, sown together by Leonard Cohen influenced finger picking.
The Closer "War Song" is another strong example of this singer-songwriters unique craftsmanship. Touching on terrorism and traveling, the song never seizes to lose that warm personal perspective that seems to be his trademark. A track that could put a smile on your face and a tear in your eye, simultaneously.John definitely has a gift and a natural knack for storytelling and compelling songwriting. You couldn't ask for a whole lot more from a man with his guitar… there is the sweet tinge of irony and humor, complete with some very serious self directed questions and statements about the nature of life.
Mr. O'Brien was born in Dublin, Ireland and currently resides in New York, promoting "Acid Week". Check out his BANDCAMP to hear/purchase the album.