Singer/songwriter with a guitar and emotionally driven songs. It is not a new concept by any means and on first impression it may conjure up two separate images: moaning pop-star style, curly-haired types a lá James Blunt and James Morrison, or annoying hipster boys crying into their guitars, such as James Vincent McMorrow and Damien Rice. Michael Brunnock is a different sort of Acoustic guitar hugging singer/songwriter, reaching somewhere in between mainstream and obscure enough to be considered ‘cool’. It is indeed a happy medium as with his wonderful vocal abilities and simple musical composition, he has been cast to sing the role of an Irish musician on the verge of success, fitting considering that is his own story, it seems. Brunnock is the voice that guides Sean Penn, YES, SEAN PENN, through an emotional journey in This must be the place which is currently showing at the Sundance Festival. Brunnock is simultaneously releasing his own work, a new album entitled The Orchard, in March, around the same time as the movie’s official release.
The album is a 13 track example as to why Brunnock was chosen to sing the tracks for this new film. His voice is extraordinary and quintessentially Irish, with delicious lilts and a tenderness that many of our male artists have abandoned in favour of Americanised tones. A truly beautiful album; The Orchard, is composed of both typically Irish sounding songs, and more chart friendly numbers, however on a casual listen, the two barely seem different, so seamless and easy is the transition. Soft White and Indigo is one of the more mainstream-friendly songs with a catchy chorus and lyrics that portray images of pure and honest beauty, as does Song of the Lark, which adopts a similar tone and air of emotional consideration.
Title track The Orchard is a song that would not seem misplaced on a Bell XI album, with the twangy element to the guitar, much championed by the Irish mainstays, and the delicately harmonised vocals. Without a doubt the most intriguing song on the album is Down by the Araglin; a touching song that could be mistaken for a classic Irish number, with its romantic sentiments and beautiful traditional musicianship and vocals. It shows Brunnock’s talent and love of music more coherently than the preceding tracks by teaming a melody as gentle as a lullaby with words best suited to an ancient Irish poem. While the album is not overly flawed, it would have been nice to hear more tracks with the traditional elements of this one.
With potential positive comments from some of the most important critics in the world, given his vocal contribution to This must be the place, he is sure to become one of our Irish treasures that we hold on to so dearly. This album is a true testament to his talent, easy to absorb and even easier to like.