Malachy Tallack
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Malachy Tallack

Shetland, Scotland, United Kingdom

Shetland, Scotland, United Kingdom
Band Pop Adult Contemporary

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"Malachy Tallack"

THE folk-club ambience doesn't come much more authentic than at the Royal Oak pub in Edinburgh's South Side, where the bar holds a crowd of 30, without a microphone in sight. Young Shetland singer-songwriter Malachy Tallack is well-used to such intimate gigs. As he pointed out, a recent show he played back home on Fair Isle, along with a six-piece band, featured a tenth of the local population onstage.

Not that Tallack's songs seek mileage out of any quaint or couthy backstory. His writing sits confidently in a contemporary roots-pop vein, echoing both the leftfield Americana of Ryan Adams and Josh Ritter and the folk-based balladry of Ralph McTell. Strong melodies and memorable choruses underpinned the up-tempo material, featuring tasty acoustic guitar work from sidekick Steven Laurenson. Lyrically, Tallack showed himself unafraid to tackle big subjects; Last Man Standing, for instance, imagining the thoughts of Britain's sole remaining Great War veteran. Equally brave were a handful of stripped-bare slower numbers, their fragility offset by the warmth of Tallack's singing. - The Scotsman


"Malachy Tallack"

THE folk-club ambience doesn't come much more authentic than at the Royal Oak pub in Edinburgh's South Side, where the bar holds a crowd of 30, without a microphone in sight. Young Shetland singer-songwriter Malachy Tallack is well-used to such intimate gigs. As he pointed out, a recent show he played back home on Fair Isle, along with a six-piece band, featured a tenth of the local population onstage.

Not that Tallack's songs seek mileage out of any quaint or couthy backstory. His writing sits confidently in a contemporary roots-pop vein, echoing both the leftfield Americana of Ryan Adams and Josh Ritter and the folk-based balladry of Ralph McTell. Strong melodies and memorable choruses underpinned the up-tempo material, featuring tasty acoustic guitar work from sidekick Steven Laurenson. Lyrically, Tallack showed himself unafraid to tackle big subjects; Last Man Standing, for instance, imagining the thoughts of Britain's sole remaining Great War veteran. Equally brave were a handful of stripped-bare slower numbers, their fragility offset by the warmth of Tallack's singing. - The Scotsman


"Tallack's Talent on Show"

Given that Shetland is hailed as a place that spawns almost more musi­cians than salmon, it is nevertheless probably fair to say that singer/songwriters still tend to be a bit of a rare species in the isles, most notably those of the male variety.

Sure, a mere handful of very worthy individuals successfully swim against the tide, but you have to admit we’re hardly spoilt for choice on this particular page of Shetland’s cultural menu. However, what we lack in terms of quantity we thankfully tend to make up for in quality, and one of that rare breed I’ve just mentioned certainly falls into this latter category. Stand up and be counted Malachy Tallack.

After the toe in the water that was his debut CD The Desert, his second album Edges & Spaces clearly show­cased an increasing musical focus and lyrical maturity, so per­haps not surprisingly his latest offer­ing From the Thorn continues this upwardly mobile trend – and then some.

Possibly his UK tour supporting Runrig – an unlikely road-trip per­haps, but one that apparently worked well (Malachy sold more albums than any previous support act they had taken on the road with them, and indeed often outsold the band) – has added to and refined that maturity and, perhaps more importantly, clear­ly increased his musical self-confidence. As such this albeit temp­orary dalliance with the Gaelic rock machine has certainly justified his initially hesitant decision to join their tour.

From the Thorn also delivers a generally more upbeat feel than its predecessors, but almost inevitably Tallack still finds some pretty dark corridors to walk down throughout its 11 tracks. Tales of lost or un­requited love, night-time tremors or pontifications on life itself sit remark­ably comfortably alongside those highlighting his own personal pride of place, and even one terrific song that’s splattered with the mud and blood of World War I’s Flanders trenches.

More Than a Lifetime is the suitably strong and impactive opener that every album demands, a life reflecting song with singer and band bound together in tight accord.

The band then takes an immediate break as their fully-charged opener is followed by Creeping Willow, a stripped bare, world class song by any stretch of the imagination – just the man and his guitar, strong lyric­ally and with the kind of infectious melody that grabs your brain, imme­diately installing itself in the reces­ses of your subconscious where it will recycle itself for ages without any need for a further listen. You will want to listen to it again though – immediately. Yep, it’s that good a song.

The sublimely beautiful The Sadness in Yourself treads a very similar path, again paved with wonderfully reflective lyrics. “Sun pours through the doorway, throws shadows round the hall, tumble into corners, gather where they fall.” Okay, accepted it might not be Dylan at his very best, but these are genuine story songs, touchingly identifiable with their composer’s personal and innermost thoughts, peppered with clever lyrical twists, turns and phrases and songs that give a re­sounding musical kicking to the bland, directionless utterings of Messrs Blunt and Morrison et al – while clearly only someone who has genuinely loved and lost could write a song like In Other Worlds.

Here we’re served up a classic dose of singer/songwriter-ship, fresh, new but nevertheless instantly familiar in so many other ways. Hell, there’s nothing wrong with familiarity anyway. It’s a solid foundation to build your own indi­vidual thinking upon.

But for this album Mallachy has also hitched up with a pretty power­ful backing crew – and employs them less than sparingly, that’s for sure. Long-time Tallack sidekick Steven Laurenson is once again recalled for guitar and backing vocals duty, alongside Graham Malcolmson (bass), Rory Tallack (fiddle, vocals) and Paul Mullay (drums), while Astryd Jamieson lays aside her traditional leanings for a while to take on a whole new keyboard and additional vocal role.

And indeed when it works it works to great effect, especially on the likes of Over and Over and Wounded Man where the band’s power and undoubted technical prowess is expertly harnessed to accentuate the emotion of the songs themselves. But occasionally, just occasionally, this power, aligned to their apparent sheer enthusiasm for the job in hand, threatens to over­whelm things just a bit, perhaps most noticeably on Just Making Do and In the Night-time, a nevertheless great song about those early hours tremors and exaggerated emotions that afflict us all from time to time.

A song where perhaps controlled or dark musical subtlety rather than a “go for it” approach might have been more appropriate. But hey, these are small complaints (if complaints they be at all) when set against the sum of the whole, and rest assured I bet it will be a whole different ball game in this respect when the band hit the live stage.

Possibly the album’s two out­standing songs ar - The Shetland Times


"Tallack's Talent on Show"

Given that Shetland is hailed as a place that spawns almost more musi­cians than salmon, it is nevertheless probably fair to say that singer/songwriters still tend to be a bit of a rare species in the isles, most notably those of the male variety.

Sure, a mere handful of very worthy individuals successfully swim against the tide, but you have to admit we’re hardly spoilt for choice on this particular page of Shetland’s cultural menu. However, what we lack in terms of quantity we thankfully tend to make up for in quality, and one of that rare breed I’ve just mentioned certainly falls into this latter category. Stand up and be counted Malachy Tallack.

After the toe in the water that was his debut CD The Desert, his second album Edges & Spaces clearly show­cased an increasing musical focus and lyrical maturity, so per­haps not surprisingly his latest offer­ing From the Thorn continues this upwardly mobile trend – and then some.

Possibly his UK tour supporting Runrig – an unlikely road-trip per­haps, but one that apparently worked well (Malachy sold more albums than any previous support act they had taken on the road with them, and indeed often outsold the band) – has added to and refined that maturity and, perhaps more importantly, clear­ly increased his musical self-confidence. As such this albeit temp­orary dalliance with the Gaelic rock machine has certainly justified his initially hesitant decision to join their tour.

From the Thorn also delivers a generally more upbeat feel than its predecessors, but almost inevitably Tallack still finds some pretty dark corridors to walk down throughout its 11 tracks. Tales of lost or un­requited love, night-time tremors or pontifications on life itself sit remark­ably comfortably alongside those highlighting his own personal pride of place, and even one terrific song that’s splattered with the mud and blood of World War I’s Flanders trenches.

More Than a Lifetime is the suitably strong and impactive opener that every album demands, a life reflecting song with singer and band bound together in tight accord.

The band then takes an immediate break as their fully-charged opener is followed by Creeping Willow, a stripped bare, world class song by any stretch of the imagination – just the man and his guitar, strong lyric­ally and with the kind of infectious melody that grabs your brain, imme­diately installing itself in the reces­ses of your subconscious where it will recycle itself for ages without any need for a further listen. You will want to listen to it again though – immediately. Yep, it’s that good a song.

The sublimely beautiful The Sadness in Yourself treads a very similar path, again paved with wonderfully reflective lyrics. “Sun pours through the doorway, throws shadows round the hall, tumble into corners, gather where they fall.” Okay, accepted it might not be Dylan at his very best, but these are genuine story songs, touchingly identifiable with their composer’s personal and innermost thoughts, peppered with clever lyrical twists, turns and phrases and songs that give a re­sounding musical kicking to the bland, directionless utterings of Messrs Blunt and Morrison et al – while clearly only someone who has genuinely loved and lost could write a song like In Other Worlds.

Here we’re served up a classic dose of singer/songwriter-ship, fresh, new but nevertheless instantly familiar in so many other ways. Hell, there’s nothing wrong with familiarity anyway. It’s a solid foundation to build your own indi­vidual thinking upon.

But for this album Mallachy has also hitched up with a pretty power­ful backing crew – and employs them less than sparingly, that’s for sure. Long-time Tallack sidekick Steven Laurenson is once again recalled for guitar and backing vocals duty, alongside Graham Malcolmson (bass), Rory Tallack (fiddle, vocals) and Paul Mullay (drums), while Astryd Jamieson lays aside her traditional leanings for a while to take on a whole new keyboard and additional vocal role.

And indeed when it works it works to great effect, especially on the likes of Over and Over and Wounded Man where the band’s power and undoubted technical prowess is expertly harnessed to accentuate the emotion of the songs themselves. But occasionally, just occasionally, this power, aligned to their apparent sheer enthusiasm for the job in hand, threatens to over­whelm things just a bit, perhaps most noticeably on Just Making Do and In the Night-time, a nevertheless great song about those early hours tremors and exaggerated emotions that afflict us all from time to time.

A song where perhaps controlled or dark musical subtlety rather than a “go for it” approach might have been more appropriate. But hey, these are small complaints (if complaints they be at all) when set against the sum of the whole, and rest assured I bet it will be a whole different ball game in this respect when the band hit the live stage.

Possibly the album’s two out­standing songs ar - The Shetland Times


Discography

'from the thorn' (LP 2009)
'Edges & Spaces' (LP 2005)
'The Desert' (LP 2003)

Photos

Bio

Former resident of Britain's most remote inhabited island, Fair Isle, Malachy now lives on the mainland of Shetland. But despite being based in the far north of the UK, his work has certainly not gone unnoticed.

In the past two years, Malachy has supported both Tom Morton and the legendary band Runrig, impressing audiences across the country and winning many new fans.

His new record, 'from the thorn', was chosen as an album of the week on BBC Radio Scotland's Iain Anderson Show.

Drawing from a broad spectrum of musical influences, from rock to folk, with the occasional dash of country, Malachy is also not afraid to make the most of his northern heritage. This hint of Shetlandica, both lyrically and musically, is part of what makes his work so unique.