Self-recorded in his bunkhouse studio with a four-track and single microphone, The Bunkhouse Vol. 1: Anchor Black Tattoo is by far the most unembellished of Fionn Regan’s four albums to date. A plain and simple approach to song writing and performance; some could mistake abrupt endings and minimal production to be a slapdash approach but in essence, this album is anything but. A mere 23 minutes long, this nine track record has some imaginative songs; a far cry from anything Regan produced on his last critically acclaimed album 100 Acres of Sycamore.
A typical acoustic accompaniment flows through the album, minimalist and melodic, ‘Clara to Calary’ and ‘Midnight Ferry Crossing’ particularly showcase a hint of the wistful arrangements, reminiscent of his earlier work. His guitar work has never been scrutinised and picking up where 100 Acres left off, Regan’s finger work is just as beautiful as ever.
The Bunkhouse peaks as early as the second track; ’67 Blackout’ carries an uplifting tone despite the often sinister subject matter. The rest of the record is an altogether bleak affair in comparison with Fionn’s earlier work. However, this is not to say that bleak cannot be entertaining. ‘Mizen to Malin’ presents itself as a conversation with the Irish sea, ripe with critical overtones, Regan’s righteous lyrics carry a message we are all too used to hearing: “just then the Irish Sea spoke, there’s a reason the country is broke”. It is quite difficult to say that one song is thoughtful and tender and the other isn’t on a record such as The Bunkhouse, perhaps the more apt description is that ‘Salt and Cloves’ is one of the more earnest tracks.
Everything about The Bunkhouse Vol.1: Anchor Black Tattoo is deliberate and self-assured; Fionn Regan has never had a lack of confidence in his work and this record is no different. It’s just quite difficult to tell where its successor will lay and if the whole affair will be as bleak.