It's hard to reconcile the nondescript character from interviews, with the husky voice, rich with charisma and charm, that emits from the speakers. But Mick Flannery is a bit of a paradox. The shy Corkonian - stonemason by day, troubadour by night - caused quite a stir with his 2005 debut 'Evening Train', an album that drew more comparisons with a young Tom Waits than any other artist in recent memory, Irish or otherwise. The most astounding thing about Flannery, though, was that an album dripping with maturity, poise and potential was crafted when the Blarney man was just 21 years old.
Now at the ripe old age of 24, Flannery's first major label-debut is equally as stimulating. The Waits comparisons are still apparent, although on 'White Lies', there's a sense that Flannery is very much determined to shun any resemblances, and find his own sound. Undoubtedly influenced by classic songwriters, his gorgeous, textured voice - which sounds it's lived through several lifetimes - is less imitative of his heroes, but no less affecting or understated.
There's no doubt, either, that Flannery's talent as a songwriter is exciting: aching piano and guitar ballads sit comfortably astride sultry, theatrical bar-room fables that groove and quietly holler, while the subtleties of his key changes, the gorgeous female backing vocals on many songs, and his proficiency with lyrics (Near or Far is particularly stirring) don't go unnoticed, either.
A singer-songwriter in the truest sense of the word - perhaps 'storyteller' would be more appropriate - 'White Lies' may not be a perfect album, but it's certainly a promising step forward for a real talent. Watch this one grow.