Cian Nugent: Night Fiction

Supposedly the Irish are pretty good with words and maybe even music –real lyrical and creative people. If that’s true, then Cian Nugent, an Irish musician with a serious sense of his roots, should be great –and in some ways he and his latest album Night Fiction are both really that great. Cian Nugent plays very stylistically and seems to draw upon the past for some inspiration. It isn’t uncommon to hear a fiddle briefly work its way into Nugent’s songs, but for the most part, Night Fiction is a guitar album by all means. Cian Nugent plays excellently, so much so he’d probably make Leo Kottke proud.

A soulful and stylistic guitar, mixed with some strong vocal melodies; the entirety of Night Fiction is beautifully composed. The album starts clean with an active and lively guitar line, accompanied by Cian Nugent’s voice. The song is called, “Lost Your Way,” and it has a bluesy vibe mixed into a softer rock sound. Not wasting any time, Cian Nugent tosses in a classic sounding solo. The entire track is reminiscent of late 70’s rock. The album continues on, “First Run,” brings the atmosphere a bit closer towards some country vibes. The song has several layers of instrumentation, it’s complicated and a bit much to handle, but a nice interpretation of the style. The third track, “Shadows,” stands out as being another leap in style but more so some great execution. Cian Nugent slows things down and creates a weepy melody that screams, “bad romcom.” The lyrical content is somber. It’s a hell of a listen that just sort of sucks you in.

It’s worth getting out there that the album isn’t groundbreaking. Simply put, the album can seem a little lackluster at first and to be truthful was more of an acquired taste. The music almost sounded generic. With a little attention and a shift of focus, rather than listening for something interesting and unique, and instead looking for some beautifully played and well composed music –Nugent’s songs really begin to sound fantastic. Admittedly there’s a fine line between, “doing what’s safe,” and “playing what you love”. Somehow Cian Nugent falls on the site of the fence that makes things a bit better.

The majority of Cian Nugent’s Night Fiction is a fantastic display of ability. With a dash of bluntness –Cian Nugent doesn’t add much to the music world, he isn’t doing anything new. The music still has a perfect sound and execution to it though. Look no further for evidence than the closing track, “Year of The Snake.” For this song, Cian Nugent decided to sacrifice a goat and resurrect the spirits of John Fahey and Robbie Basho to teach him their ways. Honestly though, “Year of The Snake,” is an incredible listen. It captures the primitive guitar sounds amazingly well. The guitar works through notes with a certain precision, creating a great atmosphere. The drums add a rhythmic texture and every little instrumental voice intensifies the experience more. Then Cian Nugent really lets loose and enters a full on jam that’s psychedelic and breathtaking. Add in some vocals, keep things rolling fast and hard, then wrap the album up in one swift move and call it a day.

Night Fiction is worth the listen if you enjoy rock or blues or bluegrass or just music from a few decades past. And that’s that, there’s not much else to say for it –Cian Nugent doesn’t push the boundaries enough to stand out in that way, but his musical style and execution are absolutely solid. Without a doubt, Night Fiction is worth checking out.

Rating: 7.5/10

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