A metaphorical experience of inwardness
British-Irish artist Seamus Fogarty, born in London, released his third album, A Bag Of Eyes, on November 6th of this year. This eccentric and explorational collection is congested with deeper meanings, imploring careful lyrical attention that is disrupted by chaotic instrumentation. Fogarty is keen on creating a song that would sound complete to an individual that enjoys a classic musical style and contort and damage it using his synthesizer. This creates a turbulent and disorganized musical style that is very distinct to him.
Fogarty’s definition of a finished piece of music is unlike any other. While his music may be loosely categorized as tacky jazz bordering on ’90s grunge, it is something completely his own and unable to fit a mold. With these one-of-a-kind instrumentals come the contrasting metaphors in his lyrics.
“Shapes” begins the album with a melancholy guitar strum and sinister violin tones. His voice breaks the silence like a figure out of dark clouds, singing lyrics of a natural scene, describing clouds, running waters and horses. “Old Suit” follows with a poetic flow and a dystopian instrumental introduction, its lyrics speaking of feeling like an “Old suit waiting to be worn again.” The following track, “Jimmy Stewart,” can be listened to like a story, Jimmy Stewart being interpreted as the protagonist, accompanied by a traditional folk type tune.
“Wake up Felix” begins, appropriately, with gentle instrumental sounds, creating a waking feeling and a tune appropriate for the early morning hours; this mood is successfully set without the use of vocals or lyrics. “Bus Shelter Blues” borders on the poetic realm also, its title as well as its lyrics alluding to an intimate moment one has with themselves that occurs at the most arbitrary instant. “Nuns” follows and contrasts the peacefully arranged “Bus Shelter Blues” with its repetitive guitar strum beginning, talked over by Fogarty, who is speaking rather than singing, telling of nuns he used to see that seemed to have disappeared. A sudden and chaotic cacophony of saxophone notes with no apparent order or attempt to hit a note joins in, stunning the listener. This odd moment is ended with Fogarty beginning to sing and the melody beginning to make more sense.
“Ghosts” pursues a more coming and sensical tune, relaxing the listener while still requiring close attention to the dramatic lyrics. Entering the realm of quirky instrumental focus, “Horse” begins with the sound of galloping that is expressed through musical instruments, followed by “Interlude,” which sounds as though Fogarty were playing a video game and decided to use the noise to create a song; an obvious use of his at-home synthesizer.
Perhaps the most personal track on his album, Fogarty presents “Johnny K,” a tune that speaks of his life as an Irish man based in London and coming to terms with his identity as such. In this track, Fogarty vividly captures the story of “Johnny K;” however, the story he tells through his music feels much too personal and intimate to be this character he attempts to convince his audience of, leading to the assumption that he is speaking of himself. The heavy and interesting use of the synthesizer in conjunction with his vocals creates an eerie and uncomfortable feel, perhaps alluding to the discomfort in Fogarty’s own identity. “San Francisco” and “My Boy Willie” conclude the album with the classic folk feel, soft guitar strums bringing the lister back to a sense of reality.
Fogarty’s metaphorical style of music is incredibly exclusive and successful, in that his lyrics and tunes at first glance seem to make no sense, but as more of the album is absorbed, his intentions are understood within a deeper sense. To listen to Fogarty’s A Bag Of Eyes is to understand him in a way that has never truly been experienced before.