‘Beneath a Yellow Moon’ should be viewed as the beginning of something very special
After feasting on the fogginess of mother nature’s exterior via the medium of extended play records, Patrick O’Laoghaire (or I Have a Tribe) has released his first full-length album, ‘Beneath a Yellow Moon’. The Irish singer-songwriter has impressed previously with a very ‘natural’ sound, with outdoorsman ruggedness and landscaped beauty. Now it’s time to see how this all sounds in a fifty minute frame.
O’Laoghaire’s songwriting has always been very unusual, not in a truly alien way, but you can tell everything he writes and sings about comes straight from the heart, with no contrived clutches at any perplexed inner brainwaves – look at the song ‘Casablanca’, it’s essentially just O’Laoghaire singing about the movie ‘Casablanca’, perhaps comparing some of the events to his own life or his own feelings, but even so, it’s pretty impressive to hear that kind of ultra-simplistic way of thinking executed with such overlapping uniqueness; not to mention, the song is an absolute epic, standing tall at nine minutes long.
The only negative as far as songwriting goes is that he seems to ‘borrow’ from himself, using similar chord progressions in a few tracks. He seems to love playing the root chord and then moving the fifth up a semitone, but it’s doubtful that the average listener will care too much. Songs that do this like ‘Battle Hardened Pacifist’, ‘Buddy Holly’ and ‘Kamala’ are still very pleasant, regardless of what little nit-picks a reviewer could throw out there.
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As a performer, O’Laoghaire is continuously solid; his voice is mainly lowly and unfazed but with small hints at bellowing emotion. The listener gets and earful of this on opening track ‘Passage’. For the most part, it’s effective, albeit a little bit unflattering the more it happens. ‘Tango’ has a bit more of an eerie, animated presence vocally, a nice change.
Much like the previous work of ‘I Have a Tribe’, every little, pea-sized helping of instrumentation is treated sacredly, like it has real purpose. The only thing that is underwhelming in this regard is that on his previous EP ‘No Countries’, we were treated to a much wider array of instrumentation. Listeners may recall big dollops of music boxes and flutes. O’Laoghaire does so much with pianos and guitars on ‘Beneath a Yellow Moon’, but a listener or two may have been excited for a grandiose, mountain of sounds.
Considering how unique a writer and performer Patrick O’Laoghaire has frequently demonstrated in the past, this particular project could be viewed as the beginning of something special. ‘Beneath a Yellow Moon’ isn’t impactful, it isn’t completely attention-grabbing, but it has an incredible amount of earthy meaning; it belongs, and hopefully notice will be taken.
‘Beneath a Yellow Moon’ is out now via Groenland Records
This I Have a Tribe article was written by Ben Malkin, a GIGsoup contributor