The community of musicians can be divided into two categories -- those who want to create and those who do so because they have no other choice. As he proves on his dauntingly mature, intriguingly nuanced Lost Highway debut, The End of History, singer-songwriter Fionn Regan clearly falls into the decidedly rarefied latter category.
The soft-spoken 26-year-old coaxes an intoxicating array of emotion and detail into his fragile-yet-gripping songs -- a body of work that's already elicited comparisons to forebears as varied as Nick Drake for his guitar playing and to Woody Guthrie for his wordplay. It's easy to understand why, given the filigreed acoustic finger-picking and raw lyrical stance of songs like the cinematic "Be Good or Be Gone" the menacing "Snowy Atlas Mountains" or the allegorical "Hey Rabbit" with its social conscience, songs that paint intensely vivid pictures -- so vivid, in fact, that Regan hesitates to elaborate as to their deeper origins.
He keeps the frills to a minimum on the dozen-song collection, getting his point across with little more than voice, acoustic guitar and piano (most of The End of History's songs were captured in one or two takes) he never gives the idea that he's practicing minimalism for its own sake. That comes into particularly sharp focus when one hones in on his guitar playing, a beguiling brew of rhythmically sturdy finger-picking (the backbone of "Hunters Map") and (as on the twinkling "Abacus"), lissome passages in which every note resonates with crystalline clarity.