NEWRY’S FINEST LOOK BACK
On Sugar Island, The 4 Of Us – led by brothers Brendan and Declan Murphy – reflect on growing up in the border town of Newry, with the Troubles constantly in the background. The approach is largely acoustic, albeit with some intricate arrangements and skillful lyric writing. And, as we have come to expect from The 4 of Us, the songs are imbued with considerable melodic flair.
‘Bird’s Eye View’ blends Simon & Garfunkel-style finger-picked folk with a bluesy melody and a light rhythmic shuffle. Despite the up-beat atmosphere, it’s darkly ominous beneath the surface, with the searchlights of ever-present army choppers hovering overhead, “shooting lightning bolts down an empty street.”
The annual July exodus from the North finds the family piling into the car, “Leaving the parades,pipers and drummers” behind, and ‘Going South’ with “cigarette smoke hanging in the air.” While it’s sad to be reminded of how the innocence of childhood can be colored by darker happenings outside, they broach everyday experiences too. Teenage romance and the bittersweet regret of break-up is explored on the title track, which has echoes of Ricky Nelson’s ‘Garden Party’ in the verse, while the soaring chorus underpins the lovely lyrical sentiment.
Elsewhere, ‘Good Bad News’, ‘Hell To Pay’ and the sublime ‘High Wire Walker’ add to to the memories of carefree youth. The wistful and directly autobiographical ‘Hometown On The Border’ neatly concludes the brothers’ story with the melody and chord progression recalling the Stones’ classic ‘Wild Horses’. Excellent.
Out Now // Colm O’Hare