Smick Folk, Album Review, November 2021

By Conor O’Neill

West Belfast’s Acoustic Dan’s LP Smick Folk album was released earlier this year in June; I wasn’t the quickest from the traps, but I’ve had it on repeat on my phone now for over a month. That should tell you enough.

Kicking off with Handicapped Hero Dan issues an immediate clarion call; even those claiming ‘political correctness gone mad!’ are sure to slightly shudder at the word ‘handicapped’, unless you’re Jeremy Clarkson. But herein lies Acoustic Dan’s – real name Daniel Gregory – charm. When tackling matters he’s interested in, he has no barriers; self edit is simply not a default mode.

At just over half an hour long and with 13 songs on offer Smick Folk tackles an array of issues from start to finish with a raw, unquestioning honesty that’s hard to find today. Most are either too frightened to sing in their native tone, have eyes on commercial success or simply lack the integrity or smarts to sing it how they see it.

I’ll not bore you with a song-by-song autopsy, but some songs are worthy of mention. The quick flow of the opening tracks are soon slowed down by A Scene From The City with a gentle acoustic intro gradually joined by slow bodhran and what sounds like a harmonium. Gregory sings about the homeless and down on their luck types you’ll find all over the city, yet too many walk past and don’t even acknowledge.

Leeches On The Hill is Guthrie like, a protest song, again telling like it is. Another no nonsense tune that’ll scream to most of us aware of what the fuckers who pretend to run this country are really up to. Enter Gregory’s world of hash infused rabbit holes of Hunter S Thompson’s world view, the Illuminati, lizard references regarding the Royal Family and school shootings, plus bombs going off in his native town and there’s a fluency yet mismatch of topics that opens one’s ear to life’s rich pagent.

What’s to be expected is charming blend of optimism, empathy and a satirical view on our local world. Prepare to hear a Shane MacGowan like scream to one note well-sung, soulful melodies on everything from the joy of Gay Pride to inward, insightful surrealism played, nah, sometimes bashed on an acoustic guitar with total abandon. If you like an album snappy, rich and raw, Smick Folk is the LP of 2021

While on your way to purchase the LP on, follow Dan’s one commandment and ‘Just Try Not To Be A Cunt.”

p.s watch this space. Interviewed Dan a few days ago. The full interview will be published in the coming week.

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