Wednesday, 6 November 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Ags Connolly - Wrong Again

Don’t judge art by the cover, the saying intimates, but maybe in this instance the image goes a long way to dictating the outcome of the latest album from Ags Connolly. The simplicity is striking from the front and back poses of our esteemed country troubadour sitting proudly and independently in the homely confines of his local. Exqusiitely profound and without a single air of pretence, WRONG AGAIN comes across as a singular aim of pursuing the holy grail of making music as close to an ideal as is possible. This album tramples over borders and any bow to consensus or evolution. Ags Connolly makes no attempt to be a pseudo- American or a Brit putting an Anglo slant on American music. There is very little deviation from a focussed goal and maybe, the realisation that we are getting close to reenacting a dream. People latch onto country music in distant lands for a multitude of reasons. If you seek some sort of escapist romanticism that steers your mind away from the norm then this record might just be for you. It fits a model; an ideal; a notion, that this style of music can be perfected away from the soil of the lauded South and the expansive West. 

Let’s banish thoughts that WRONG AGAIN may be the pinnacle of what Ags Connolly has set out to do. Many country artists over the years have found that golden touch and then added the knack of repetition without a drop in standards, even if evolution hasn’t been the byword. What Ags Connolly does in the future is down to his creative whim. What Ags Connolly has done in the present is make an album that glitters with the golden touch of idealism.

Throughout the ten tracks that form this album, an iconic sound is nailed down. Whether you seek a soundtrack rich with fiddle and pedal steel or symbolic themes of sadness, loss and contemplative thoughts, all can be found in the vaults of this album. There is a marked distance between singer and the song, leaving a gap where the listener can surmise, explore or play games of invention. As much as Ags Connolly is a talented singer-songwriter, he never shies away from extolling the virtues of those who have inspired him to pursue this artistic calling. Therefore seeing a cover nestled alongside the originals is no surprise. The highest compliment you can pay is that the Connolly-writes are not overshadowed by Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Early Morning Rain’. Our esteemed unassuming country troubadour would cast off such praise, but in this instance it is wholly endorsed. 

From the opening strains of ‘I’ll Say When’, through the pain of ‘Lonely Nights in Austin’ to the climax of proclaiming ‘Sad Songs Forever’ we are constantly in the midst of a country record that aches with feeling and emotion. Much is down to the vocal style that Connolly curates, but no doubt the utmost care and attention imprinted into the production process pays dividends in handsome proportions. 

You will have to seek far and wide to find a better country album in 2019 outside the parameters of the norm. WRONG AGAIN simmers, flourishes and glows with country gold. However, this is Ags Connolly we are talking about and many have known what he is capable of for a long time.

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