Ronan O Snodaigh may be best known for his work with modern trad fusionists Kila, but has been known to put an even more unique, eclectic slant on his solo work. With 'Water Off A Duck's Back' he presents a collection of songs that is at once playful, thoughtful, spiritual and joyful, but most importantly, enjoyable from beginning to end.
Immediately showing his fun, happy-go-lucky side with silly lyrics like "have a cup of coffee and a cheese on toast", and "water off a duck's back… quack, quack", the charisma that makes O Snodaigh such an enigmatic and always entertaining frontman is what makes him equally likeable on record. Indecipherable though he may often be, his rich accent rolls of his tongue in a fluid fashion that's wonderfully easy on the ears, while his unadulterated, idiosyncratic style has a charm that far outweighs his occasional tendency toward the maudlin, particularly a number of trite spoken word passages.
Here, O Snodaigh's influences are as wide-ranging as ever, with everything from a sprinkling of funk on 'Somebody Down', to retro organ on 'Look to the Light' and some buoyant, wandering piano adding a hint of jazz to the soothing and steady 'Hang Your Head'. With a band of top class Irish musicians including Liam O Maonlai, even without a single song as Gaeilge O Snodaigh's traditional roots are never far away, presenting themselves subtly in syncopated rhythms and chant-like melodies.
Though these nine songs are, individually, quite lengthy, their intimately coloured character and wayward, meandering approach see each passing moment hold its own without thought for where they song might be going next. Though closer 'Terrible Beauty' unfortunately crosses the line from sweet into twee, 'Matthew Mark' remains a amiable, featherweight number despite its biblical references, though an insertion of The Serenity Prayer may prove difficult to stomach for those not of a religious persuasion. 'Water Off A Duck's Back' may not be a perfect album, but there's something genuine and true about it, which, in this day and age, is a very rare thing indeed.