Hot Press Mazagine Album Review 7/10 Rating

Journalist: Colm O’Hare 

“Classically trained pianist and guitarist Colin O’Shea is something of a renaissance man – dividing his time between his full-time job as a corporate professional and a music career (he also holds a psychology degree). 

Recorded over a two-year period with producer David Prendergast (Kodaline), his debut reveals an eclectic and mercurial talent capable of working within a number of styles and genres, though he’s mainly grounded in the singer-songwriter tradition of Tom Waits, Randy Newman and Warren Zevon, with a touch of Nick Cave’s darker side. 

The songs are certainly ambitious in their arrangements – not surprising given his musical training – and he utilises the studio to good effect. Opening track and recent single ‘Booze ‘n’ Hangovers’ is a mid-tempo, piano-based tune with echoes of Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City’ in the melody, while a more experimental feel underpins ‘Soldier’, which utilises “bullet” mic sound effects to distort O’Shea’s gravelly voice even further. 

He’s at his best when constructing tension-filled romantic ballads such as, ‘The Stars’, a real highlight here, and the string-drenched ‘My Angel’, which is lent a formal air courtesy of a military drum pattern. The title track is almost Dylanesque, with a backbeat recalling U2’s ‘With Or Without You’. 

Elsewherer, ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ sounds like something from the soundtrack of The Sopranos and also evokes the seedy romance of Gotham City. 

O’Shea’s voice sounds a little like the late Harry Chapin on ‘Hummin’ Blue’, while the acoustic guitar makes a rare appearance on ‘Footprints’ – yet another strong tune on this highly compelling effort. 

Album Review by Gigging Northern Ireland.

Journalist: Jamie Kerr

The debut album from Irish singer/songwriter Colin O’Shea, ‘Scars and Tones’, produced by David Prendergast (Overhead the Albatross, Kodaline), is bold and eclectic, fusing elements of everything from U2, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to even Bruce Springsteen. 

The first track on the album, debut single ‘Booze ‘n’ Hangovers’ kicks the album off in an anthemic style. The track features the kind of classic songwriting and dazed atmosphere you might expect to find on the likes of a Mac DeMarco album, however combined with strong hints of Springsteen. O’Shea’s songwriting capabilities are immediately evident from the opening track, as is the fantastic production by Prendergast. 

The second track, ‘Soldier’ truly highlights the diversity of O’Shea as a songwriter, with the song’s lo-fi vocals combining seamlessly with the instrumental, creating a sound which is unlike anything else found on the album. A true standout moment in the record. 

The most memorable moments on the album, however, are found in the romantic ballads. Tracks such as “The Stars” and “Heartstrings”, the latter in particular creating a melancholic atmosphere akin to that which can be found in the discography of Nick Cave. These tracks combine all the best elements of O’Shea’s musical capabilities, classically trained as a pianist and a guitarist, as well as featuring some beautiful production. 

Of the ten tracks on the album, there is not a single one that does not bring a new element of O’Shea’s abilities to the fore. This outstanding debut perfectly showcases the promise of the massively diverse singer songwriter.