The FREQUENCY-IRELAND Music Alternative

An independent voice on choice sounds from the alternative/underground music scene in Ireland.
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Monday, January 22, 2007

El Descamisado

Amongst quite a large sea of singer-songwriters here in Ireland, many mediocre, it is refreshing to listen to one which stands apart. For me, Dave Caughey from Bangor in Northern Ireland is one such singer-songwriter.

A true musical recluse by his own admission, he actually hasn't played a gig in years. He has however, been busy recording material under the guise of his current project as 'El Descamisado', where one can hear the strong influence of artists such as Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Neil Young. Tracks from an album titled 'The Sweetheart Stone, And Other Tales Of Woe' can be streamed from his myspace, including recently uploaded 'If I Was Your Girl'. He writes an account to the inspiration for this song, summing it up with 'sometimes I wonder if they're still together, for her sake I hope not'. I think that comment frames the mood of the song. It's based on his thoughts after observing someone smug in relationship that has let all their charm dissipate into ambivalence. It fades, quite fittingly, to the sounds of a dog barking in the distance.

His best material on offer lies elsewhere however. There's something quite chilling about 'Smiling Faces' that I can't quite figure out. I think there's a frustration here at another's depression, although I'm not quite sure, and I’ll not try to dissect it here. We also get an appeal for politics of peace in 'Rosebud', a song which featured on Neil Young's website 'Songs Of The Times' late last year, showing the level of respect for this artist, but it is 'Oak Creek Angels' which perhaps stands out most, relased as a single last year, and for which he has donated all profits to Rafikis Children, an organization which runs non-profit orphanages in Kenya for HIV/Aids orphans (actually, a country I've been lucky enough to spend a short time in some years ago, got to know a few locals, and visited a local school there - it's quite humbling to witness at first hand how little they have, and how far what we'd consider small change here can go towards helping kids to get on in life out there). Anyway, in itself, Oak Creek Angels is quite a chilling song, instilling guilt on one giving all when giving it too late to matter, and a very fine piece of songwriting.

“You wish you'd helped me; you didn't even try. You were too self obsessed, my life was in a mess, and you knew it; are you feeling guilty? do you wish that you’d done more to take away the pain, absolve yourself from blame, now i'm gone?”
– Oak Creek Angels, El Descamisado.

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