Niamh Regan – Come As You Are

A powerful second album...

The nights are getting lighter. The chill is leaving the air, and freak downpours aside, it feels like summer is getting closer. This means that its time to select an album to place to watch the sun set. This year’s frontrunner is Niamh Regan’s second album ‘Come as You Are’. After the success of her 2020 debut album ‘Hemet’, it feels like Regan has used the adage “Go big or go home” as her mantra. Compared to ‘Hemet’ ‘Come as You Are’ is a bigger sounding album. The melodies are bigger, hooks catchier and vocals richer and soaring higher than original imagined. 

The first big song on the album is ‘Music’. The opening two songs are good, setting the mood for the album perfectly: low tempo, soaring vocals, wistful lyrics. But then she delivers ‘Music’. As the song winds and twines its way around you are gently pulled into its catchy world. However, its near the end, when the killer blow is dealt. Regan sings “Music doesn’t do it for you. I’d be lost without you”, we feel her passion, pain, love, remorse and redemption.

The first thing you notice about ‘Come as You Are’ is the lack of percussion. It’s a very string driven album (guitar and bass). Finger clicks are, at times, the closest we get to a driving beat. And it works. ‘Nice’ feels like the most beaty track and there are large swaths where it’s just vocals and bass. On ‘Blame’ there are drums. Their inclusion feels, almost, revolutionary, compared to the previous six songs. The music swells. You feel euphoric. ‘Paint a Picture’ has a glorious country twang to it. It’s a shame that Regan didn’t experiment with this sound a bit more on the album, as it clearly works. The woozy waltz swagger to ‘Paint a Picture’ delightful and the delivery of “Half filled cup” is literally goosebump territory.

The standout track on the album is the closer ‘Record’. The track starts with the sound of a cassette being put into a deck and play being pressed. Then Niamh Regan says “just finished the record, just finished the record” – is she talking to us? Or is she talking to herself: “Just finish the record. You can do this”. While we’re pondering this she lilts “sorry I was never around” and we realise this is a love/apology song. It’s moments like this that really make ‘Come As You Are’ a gem. As the song progresses, strings swell, piano ponders, a chaotic choir erupts, drums stutter and melodies fly around us. Then after a gentle piano the song, and album are over. 

‘Come As You Are’ is a delightful album full of delicate vocals, subtle hooks and exquisite instrumentation. The downside is there is little variation between the songs and its hard to tell the songs apart. While I’m not suggesting that Regan goes electronica or metal, some variation wouldn’t have done amiss. Saying that ‘Come as You Are’ is a wonderful album to get lost in. Lyrically she has a knack of delivering something simple but making it stick in your mind long after the album has finished. “Music doesn’t do it for you. I’d be lost without you”, taken at face value, it’s a good lyric, but the more you think about it, and place it over your life, you realise she is talking about something bigger than you originally imagined. This is the takeaway from the album. So, come as you are, or were, but make sure you come and bask in the late summer glow Niamh Regan and her voice and stories. 

7/10

Words: Nick Roseblade

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