Mark Geary

Mark Geary

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The only real hint of Mark Geary's Irish roots on his eponymous debut CD is the slight betrayal of his Dublin brogue. The music, however, is more evocative of and tied to American roots musics, such as country, folk-rock, and even touches of bluegrass, occasionally melded with Caribbean influences, such as the reggae rhythms that act as the underpinning for "America." Musically, much of the album lopes by sleepily and slightly droney, but only occasionally does it seem sluggish. Songs such as "Adam & Eve" and "By the Time" barely maintain a walking pace, but the guitars shimmer like rain and give a pretty, crystalline exterior to the music that perfectly fits Geary's heartbroken vocals. Geary's voice is not a virtuosic instrument by any means, but it entirely makes up for its lack of range with warmth and a weathered expressiveness that gives his tales an emotional core and authenticity. It also ties him to both Ireland and America. Though six years in New York, many of Geary's Irish concerns do surface lyrically, from family to Catholic guilt to personal disappointments, and even when he is not singing explicitly about his native land or about experiences grounded there, there is a certain desolation and bleakness inherent in both the lyrics and the music. That is not to say that Mark Geary is necessarily a bleak listen. The sunny, country-picked "Sombrero" outwardly smiles for its entire three-and-a-half minutes like so many Tom Petty ballads have in the past, and "Watertight" locks into a moderate bass groove, across which noodly electric guitar and toy piano skip. "You're Not My Friend" is propelled forward by an incessant, aggressive beat. Beneath it all, Geary sounds ultimately thankful and joyous, and this thoughtful, promising album bears out a man who, even with his demons and regrets, firmly holds onto his experiences as good ones. He has more fine albums in him.

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