Simon Fagan, Outside Looking In (Loose Robe Productions, 2010)

Simon Fagan is a singer and songwriter from the town of Navan in County Meath, Ireland.  Most of his first full-length album Outside Looking In can be described as blue-eyed, husky-voiced soul along the lines of the Scottish singer Paolo Nutini or Andrew Strong from The Commitments, but there are some touches of folk and gospel here as well to keep things interesting.

The good news about Outside Looking In is that it doesn't waste a track, and a few songs are particularly good. "Damn Honey" is a nice, lively single, and the brassy "Never Really Cried" is first-rate soul.  "Won't Let Go" is a solid rocker, while the spiritual "Water's Edge" is lively and uplifting.  The minor-key "Love Don't Work" has a noirish quality that actually does work pretty well.

The catch with an album like this is that while there may be something on it for everybody, there may not be that one song that forces its way onto the radio or into people's iPods.  I've been worried for a while that the album is becoming something of a lost art, and that there is not enough reward for performers like Fagan who can be consistently good. Obviously, I hope I'm wrong.

Whether it gets to be a hit or not, there's plenty to like about Outside Looking In.  I look forward to hearing more from Simon Fagan in the future.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

"Damn Honey"

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