Tag Archives: Ronan Conroy

Ronan Conroy

Ronan Conroy – ‘Song To The River’ Video Release

Regular readers may recall my review of Ronan Conroy’s Discontent album last year.

I loved the album and at the time described it as “deep, dark, introspective and at times menacing.”  Ronan is now set to release a video for one of the strongest tracks on the album “Song to the River.”

Filmed and directed by Justin Wierbonski the video is shot in Black and White in a “film Noir” style that captures the mood of the song perfectly.  It is deep, dark and a little disturbing.  There is a sense of overwhelming loss and pain throughout the piece, a sense of being lost in a swirling rush of emotion, of powerlessness in the face of the strength of emotion.

Check out the video.  Ronan is on the internet here, on Facebook and he tweets as @Ronan_Conroy

Ronan Conroy – The Game – album review

Ronan Conroy is a New York based singer songwriter. His previous work was with dark folk band ‘The Listeners’ and Goth Inspired ‘Oh Halo’ for whom Ronan played guitar and shared songwriting duties.

In 2013 Ronan embarked on a “never-ending album” project, recording over 30 songs in the first year, working with the incredibly talented producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Charles Nieland (guitarist with Her Vanished Grace), with a host of guest musicians including Justin Wierbonski (Children of Mu, Quiet Sons, Demonic Sweaters) and Satoshi Inoue (Quiet Sons, Cerenkov).

I had the pleasure of reviewing “Discontent” his first solo offering, late last year and I am delighted to say that the second album was released at the end of February.  Amazingly the next instalment is already in production.

Where “Discontent” was brooding, introspective and largely acoustic “The Game” is a ‘bigger’ album.  It is bigger in sound and bigger in outlook.  The stripped back acoustic approach is largely replaced by a full band sound and the songs are much more outward looking.  What the albums share though is that they dig deeply into the dark side of life.  No subject is out of bounds, drink, drugs, prostitution and the seedy side of big city life all get a run out.

Ronan Conroy honed his songwriting skills studying Dylan, and Nick Cave and those influences are clear once again.  Like those masters Conroy is extremely adept at building contradictions, layers and  dilemmas into his songs.  His songs are often metaphorical and allegorical, something that comes over really well in “The Princess, the Coke Whore and Magdalena.”  The song reacquaints is with Ramon and Magdalena from Dylan’s “Romance in Durango” as Magdalena lies with her dead lover.

We are introduced to the three sides of her personality, the princess on her wedding day, the coke whore turning tricks in a back alley for a line of coke and the wife, daughter and mother that is Magdalena.  It shows us that people have many faces and each of sees a different face at different times.

The Game reflects on life’s winners and losers, one light and dark, joy and despair, life and death and the stories that underpin each of those facets are told across the piece.  In “Hello Kitty” you get light bound in darkness.  The melody is bright and uplifting and holds out a message of hope “what we have will live for ever so you say” then Conroy cruelly smashes that hope as he observes “but I won’t live forever, I’m dying every day”.

“Give me what I need” conjures up a vision of the man who has everything and yet has nothing. “I’ve got everything I need, but I ain’t got what I need.”  You see the rich man surrounded by material wealth but unfulfilled because something is missing. “We’ve all night” builds on the theme of a lack of fulfilment claiming that “its all right now, I’m all cried out”.

“One way or another” sees the protagonist trapped in the cages of an unfulfilling job and an unfulfilling home life, trapped in cages, knowing that so much more is possible but not having the courage to chase his dreams.

“Right or Wrong” sees the pace lifted another notch, driving electric guitars set the tone and Conroy hints that you know what is right, it is there inside of you, things are not black and white but the answer is there if you choose to open your eyes and see it.  The higher energy is maintained through the rest of the album but the contrasts remain “we are going nowhere fast, but we are going there much faster, beyond the point of pointlessness,” deliciously ironic observations in “It Comes Around.”

Once again this offering from Ronan Conroy holds together beautifully as a piece its wry observations on life are the theme on which everything hangs.  It is more upbeat and perhaps more instantly accessible than “Discontent” but it still feels part of an overall story.  It is hugely enjoyable, interesting and rewarding and it still carries secrets that are given up only after a little effort on the part of the listener.  “The Game” is another wonderful piece of work by Ronan Conroy and it is by some distance the best album I have heard so far this year.

Ronan Conroy | website | facebook |  bandcamp |

Ronan Conroy – Discontent

Ronan Conroy is based in New York. His previous work was with Dark folk band ‘The Listeners’ and Goth Inspired ‘Oh Halo’.

Discontent is his first solo offering and is part of a project that will spawn several albums. I suspect that each of the albums will follow a theme, certainly ‘Discontent’ has the feel of a concept album. The first thing that strikes you about ‘Discontent’ is Conroys’ voice. It is deep, dark and brooding, like molasses on a hot skillet it spreads, slowly, bubbles of discontent rising, popping and rising again.

The album open brightly with ‘Welcome to my Country’ the intro of which is reminiscent of a ‘Band’ era Bob Dylan or a Creedence Clearwater Revival song. The brightness of the music disguises the underlying message which speaks of drunken ill mannered youth, a lack of respect and financial exploitation. ‘Sunrise’ continues the bright theme with upbeat finger style guitar and lyrics that speak of love and yet you feel the discontent rising as Conroy sings “I’m not tired of loving you YET”.

‘If only’ brings percussion and a female backing vocal into the mix and starts out with some great lines including “I don’t know whats wrong with what we are saying, except for what we are saying” handing out the clear message that everything is wrong. ‘Of turning corners’ develops this theme as Conroy sings of “turning my back at you, things that I thought AT you, behind a smile’. This track splits the album into parts with its winter and a latter summer versions.

After the ‘Winter’ version things turn really dark with ‘Lord help me I am lost’ which leads into ‘Song to the River’. Conroy’s voice reaches its deepest, keyboards tap out a funeral march and the addition of strings adds to the sense of melancholic desperation. It gives the feeling of someone who has lost all hope to the wind and the deep dark river. ‘Winter of our Discontent’ is a stark and sparse instrumental piece that gives just a hint of approaching spring. ‘The Climb’ has suggestions of an outsider ‘Standing on the ledge, knocking on the window pane’. It is agonising and disturbing.

The summer version of ‘Turning Corners’ has the same lyrics as the winter version but it feels different. It feels like someone who has made the decision to break free of the things and people who are dragging them down. The gently climbing tone of the guitar, a brighter string arrangement and an altogether more optomistic percussion arrangement tells the story of someone who has reached rock bottom and has started to make their way back to the light. This feeling continues in ‘By the time I get to Denver’ a song that suggests that the worm has turned, that control has shifted.

‘So long Mary-Jane’ suggests someone who has broken free, broken the shackles that have held them down, broken the link with what or who was causing the pain. The closing track “the Road Not Travelled’ talks of a man who has made difficult choices but is content to have broken with the past.

As a piece this album holds together really well. It is deep, dark, introspective and at times menacing. It does however hint at optimism for what is to come. For Conroy I suspect that this will emerge in the next album, part of an ongoing project. To be fair this is not an album that you will be playing at our New Year house party. Like the best of Leonard Cohens work you will want to listen to this when you are in reflective mood and want to be challenged by what you are listening to. I loved it and cannot wait for the next instalment.