Finnian - Under The Influence
After a string of excellent singles over the last 12 months it is finally time for the album "Under The Influence" to be released. The clever title is open to a number of interpretations depending on which song you are listening to. it could be drink, drugs, or a woman, however there is also artistic influence at play and the album at times will pass a nod in various directions perhaps expected from the likes Van Morrison, less expected perhaps in the case of Stevie Wonder while at all times remaining completely original
The album kicks off in style with "Where We Go" if anything sounding more summery than ever, it's message of living in the moment perhaps never more appropriate, and that warm soulful sound serves as a worthy introduction.
Moving on to "Stay" we find Finnian shifting up the soulful feeling even more with an easy laid back vocal, the sort that of which has not really been heard to such effect since Robert Palmer passed. It mixes a blend of an almost reggae opening with a horn section that may have stepped through time from your favourite Tamla Motown group as well as female backing singers to make something truly special
Our first interaction with Finnian came via the sublime "Even Flow" and it remains as fresh and hypnotic as it ever did, the clipped guitar sound, and the appearance in the second verse of the tender vocals of Stephanie Winters make it one of the most original and memorable tunes in ages.
Never is Finnian more poetic than on "Don't Want To See You Go", the opening lines painting a scene as vivid as any picture, "Where they moor those fishing boats beside the old spirits store well love don't leave me waiting here for long, as I smoke outside the door". With a sumptuous rich organ sound throughout, and a backing chorus adding to the overall soulful feel, this is ultimate feel good music.
The album veers in a gospel direction with "Out Of Sight" a delicious blend of piano and organ providing the backing for Finnian to provide a slow husky almost spoken vocal. The album has a lovely rootsiness to it "Fly" laced with a blues piano, while "Lifted Up" once again has a heavy soulful vibe generated by a wonderful horn section and a band producing a super smooth backing rhythm.
Stevie Wonder was mentioned in the introduction, and his "influence" is brought to bear in possibly the albums most offbeat moment, "The Devil In Flashing Lights", whereby Finnian moves into a full on "Superstition" groove, with a great horn section once again for this tale of a one night pill popping disco encounter. The band are given free reign to channel their inner Stevie and they go wild and take it to the limit.
The final track "I Don't Want To Fall In Love", the third single from the album, released in early 2020 now perhaps has even more pathos than it previously had in the context of the songs on the album. There is a certain world weariness in those opening lines "Step in from the rain, hang my coat on the door, a lot of whiskey for the pain but I need something more", and a certain sadness in the fact that although he has a temporary infatuation he knows "it's over before it even begins". The extended outro has the feel of a man walking off into the sunset while the credit play over the final scene of a movie, it's a chance to savour the bands efforts one last time.
There are many treats to be had on "Under The Influence" and the magic of the singles only hints at the wonders to be found within. Finnian is able to magically recreate the beautiful sounds of the past, mixing them up with the present to make something that will last well into the future.