by / April 7th, 2014 /

D.F.F. – Pouric Songs

 3/5 Rating

(Frisbee Records)

While Ireland has been developing into a multi-cultural society for some years, it’s taken the domestic music scene a while to catch up. Of late, however, the likes of the Notas, Simi Crowns, Rocstrong, Unwinding Cables, Yong Buddha and more have broken new ground. D.F.F. are of a slightly more mature vintage but are also creating a sound that reflects the modern state of the nation. Its three main members have all been around the block yet find a new combination of sounds here.

Vyvienne Long you’ll know, both from her work with Damien Rice and playing solo, while Dave Flynn has moved between the worlds of trad and classical to chamber pop. Niwel Tusumbu, meanwhile, has been flying the flag for African culture in Ireland longer than most and it’s his contribution that, at its best, sets Pouric Songs apart. ‘Mad For You’ swings the record into view, a boy / girl duet set to a musical background that darts here and there, anchored by Tsumbu’s joyous jit jive guitar. ‘Phantom Moves’ and ‘Skin To The Bone’ repeat the trick and already you’re hooked. Driven by the four piece rhythm section, D.F.F. sound like the most natural thing in the world.

There’s still a long way to go, however. Twelve tracks long (and with many coming in at over six minutes), D.F.F. leave plenty of room to stumble and unfortunately they don’t always stay on their feet. Having set up an impressive opening, the record loses its way. The main problem is Flynn who, as chief songwriter and vocalist, has a lot to carry and isn’t quite up to the task. ‘Woodlands’ is frankly awful, a meandering mess with woeful lyrics from Flynn’s writing partner Pádraic Ó’Beirn – “the sky is wearing silk pyjamas, waiting for the moon”. What started off with so much life and energy sadly runs out of ideas and ends up more cringe worthy than invigourating. Tsumbu and Long do their best, but the source material often falls far too short.

Recorded at such notable studios as Real World and Grouse Lodge it all sounds sumptuous but you can’t help feel that someone should haven taken the project, pared it right back and emerged with a short, sharp, thrilling record. Instead, it sags in too many places. One look at the production credit, a certain Dr Dave, gives you a suggestion of why that might be. Not without its fair share of great moments, the overall effect is diluted far too often and what could have been a companion piece to The Gloaming record (yes, that good) ends in a confused muddle.

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  • The Critic’s Critic

    A bit of friendly advice to make your review more credible.

    When writing about an artist it is usually expected that their name is spelled correctly.

    It’s ‘Niwel Tsumbu’ not ‘Tusumbu’.

    It’s also wrong to describe his guitar style as ‘Jit Jive’. Jit Jive is a Zimbabwean style, Niwel is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and his style of playing on this album is more related to Congolese Rumba and Soukous.

    It is borderline racist to tag a Zimbabwean music style onto his playing style. It certainly betrays an ignorance of the diversity of music on the African continent.

    It’s a bit like describing The Gloaming’s instrumental bits as ‘flamenco’!

    Also a bit of a schoolboy error in this sentence ‘the source material often falls far to short.’ That should of course be ‘far too short’.

    Your readers and fellow journalists would surely expect better from their editor than to make woeful mistakes like these.