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Review: Rory Lavelle – Waves

Waves is the debut album from Belfast-based singer-songwriter Rory Lavelle, and it’s a beautiful thing. Thematically diverse and with a whole host of influences at play, there is some new treat to discover with each listen.

Track 1 and the first single All These Horrors is a darkly apocalyptic warning and invites us to ponder how we’d each fair, come the day of reckoning.

Sonny is something of a miniature kitchen sink drama, dealing as it does with an angry young man, life on the breadline, prison and the ever-present threat of domestic violence. Starting with low-key guitar chords and understated vocal it escalates to an electric guitar chorus that sounds not unlike Stereophonics, but in a good way – if that’s possible.

A distinctly ethereal sound is evident in Poor Pride which has more than a touch of Suede to it – faux suede if you will. (Sorry). “Hey you, it’s a pleasure to meet you, such a pleasure to hold you”, the lyrics are sung with a seductively silky glamour.


A return to the dark side comes with When the Crazies Come Out, charting murderous violence against the backdrop of staccato strings and a repetitive chanting chorus. Add a few synths and this track could be at home on a John Grant album. Another brilliantly weird one is These with its peculiar panting intro and its earworm of a chorus.

Not wanting to perform a total track-by-track dissection of this record, I find that I can’t neglect to mention the gorgeous Waiting for the Reverie. With only minimal, willowy lyrics, the vocal falls somewhere in the neighbourhood of Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright in terms of its sheer beauty.

Ten tracks in total and every one is a shiny little gem in its own way. It’s exciting to hear a local artist doing something so interesting, particularly since it is all self-penned and produced. Not only that, but with the exception of the strings and the drums, Lavelle plays all the instruments on here too. It’s impossible to pigeon-hole this album really. Though he’s often compared to Sufjan Sevens, I’ve detected at least half a dozen other influences in there, and I’d even throw a dash of Jobriath for good measure. Surely that’s enough to be going on with?

Writer for Gigging NI. My tastes are varied; began listening to the folksy standards of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and indie favourites like The Cure and The Smiths, all of which permeated my formative years in the 80s. My first gig was Prince in Cork in 1990. The 90’s also included The Trip to Tip in ’91 & ’92, and gigs by Van Morrison, David Byrne, The Verve, Counting Crows, John Prine, Morrissey, Chris Smither and many more. The noughties brought James Taylor, Squeeze, New York Dolls, Neil Young, Arlo Guthrie amongst others; though a highlight was an opportunity to see lifelong hero David Bowie on his final tour, Reality in 2003. This decade I’ve had the chance to see everything from Erasure, Johnny Marr and They Might be Giants to Thirty Seconds to Mars, Aslan, Crosby and Nash, Georgie Fame, Paolo Nutini, John Grant. Latterly there's been a pretty serious obsession with Rufus Wainwright, and the Wainwrights in general to be honest. In the last few years, I’ve also been enjoying a lot more of our home grown talent, with the likes of Duke Special, Brian Kennedy, VerseChorusVerse, The Bonnevilles, Tony Villiers and the Villains, The Hardchargers, and The Four of Us – so I guess you could say no common thread to speak of!