Date/Time: 8PM, December 31st
Venue: Cork Opera House
Admission: €18, €20, €22.50
In the end of the day and the heel of the hunt, you’re left with the songs. Everything else comes and goes – the shows and the tours and the applause and the acclaim which goes with them, the prattle and the palaver which accompany an album release. Everything else fades out of view. Everything else doesn’t matter in the long run. But the songs remain. The songs you write on your own stick around. They’re going to be here for many years to come so they deserve to be treated with due care and utmost respect in the creation process.
Mick Flannery realised this a long time ago. He also realised that songwriting was the best part of this strange job of being a jobbing-gigging-talking-singing musician.
“It’s never a chore”, Flannery says about the craft. “The creation is the nicest part, it’s something you always have and you can use it to work through stuff that’s in your head. You have to take it seriously if it’s going to be any good. It’s always my favourite thing, like putting Lego blocks together. You can make a lot of things with Lego.”
You can make an album like ‘By the Rule’, for instance. It’s Flannery’s fourth album but it’s a world on from anything he has put his name to before now. ‘Evening Train’ (2007), ‘White Lies’ (2008) and especially 2012’s best-selling and critically acclaimed number one album ‘Red to Blue’ had their advocates and champions. They were significant staging posts along the road for the songwriter from Blarney, signs that he was finding an unique voice and vision, signs that he was finding his feet as he was finding an audience.
We can now consider the apprenticeship to be over. His latest album, ‘By the Rule’ is the work of a confident, assured songwriter, someone who knows how to turn a list of nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs into graceful, minor-key pen-pictures and poetry which will resonate with the listener.Beneath and beyond the beautifully understated, uncomplicated and uncluttered production on By the Rule, Flannery’s songs usher us into a world which is by times emotional, romantic, dark, insightful and hopeful.
Flannery turned thirty last year and finds he’s less bothered than he used to be by the small stuff. When you get to this age, you’re happy to let the small stuff go. “When you get to the end of your twenties, you become less self-obsessed. You start worrying less about your feelings. You become calmer. It gradually becomes easier to be yourself.”
‘By the Rule’, is then the sound of Mick Flannery getting comfortable in his skin. The sound of a man at ease with his work. The sound of a master songwriter creating his best work to date.