Michael Tiernan takes the stoic position of the artists looking at life. His music is lyrical and contemplative. His songs are long and almost always exceed five minutes. Not the kind of music that can become a hit. Each song needs to be listened to carefully and repeatedly to really be appreciated. Tiernan describes modern life and often cites TV as the fire in the middle of the house, people sitting around it looking, or waiting for an answer from it, or just trying to forget their lives through it. "There's nothing like TV, to take away our memory/There's nothing like a cell phone, so we can never be alone/There's nothing like a video, to destroy our imagination/There's nothing like itself anymore."
Although Tiernan thinks TV is a negative thing, still he considers it to be the place to escape to when escaping from the world. In a way, Tiernan preaches without preaching to take life into one's own hands. This CD is self produced as was his first CD Two Weeks, and although it only includes vocals and guitars, played by Tiernan himself, Still Listening is highly produced, with overdubbing, backing vocals and more than one guitar playing lead, including a 12-string.
I found this approach to be successful at times, but also missed the point many other times. I am sure that Tiernan's work could benefit from a producer who could offer other sonic and harmonic ideas. Adding a few more instruments, three or four more, could also help make his 75 minutes of observational song more palatable. The Boston area singer-songwriter sound and coffeehouse stalwarts such as David Wilcox have influenced Tiernan. Often his way of taking the lines a bit longer than his normal breath evoked Ellis Paul, and also Paul's friends Dave Nachmanoff and Don Conoscenti. I mean this reference more as a way of placing Tiernan than limiting his own growth space and creativity. I find Tiernan to be a fresh voice of very high quality. I am not sure he's found his groove, and suspect that bringing different approaches to his recording process could make a telling difference.
Tiernan's first CD Two Weeks sounds like a demo, and he lets on that he plans to rerecord the songs one day. I found the material on his first CD to be very good, and I even preferred slightly the sound of the first one to the second, although production values are virtually non-existent. In conclusion, I would say that Tiernan's songwriting star is definitely one to watch for. Listen to some of these songs that can downloaded from his site before buying and see what you think. David Wilcox and Ellis Paul should be delighted by this CD. If you have the opportunity to hear Tiernan perform in a venue near you, go. I am really curious to hear what sonic directions Tiernan takes in setting his next batch of songs.
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