Melody Maker May 29th

Polichinelle (album review)
As anyone who's ever listened to 'The Evening Session' will tell you, there's a lot of fifth-rate bands that seem to think they can get by on bluster and spunk alone. Sensitive Dubliners The Prayer Boat, by comparison, laugh in the face of such gritty authenticity.

Instead, like Aztec Camera or Shack say, they're all classy production over indie parochialism, ideas over influences and great songs over this week's styles. Although, amazingly, they're currently collaborating with drum 'n' bass eggheads 4 Hero too.

When The Prayer Boat make the most of Emmett Tinley's voice - the man can make a cat's cradle of your heart strings - it all gels wonderfully. Indeed, the likes of "It Hurts To Lose You" and "In My Arms Again" are rich heartbrakers, reminiscent of a less neurotic Radiohead. But, it's a short walk from the restrained ebb and flow of piano and guitars on the lovely "Was This Love" to "Slow Down", a tune that could have come straight off Simply Red's "Picture Book".

At times, The Prayer Boat are simply too polite for their own good. Which is why, like bestiality and watching Channel 5, "Polichinelle" may well end up the private pleasure of a select hardcore - one that's difficult to explain and easily misunderstood.

Tony Naylor *****


The Prayer Boat

‘Polichinelle’ (Invisible Records)

The Prayer Boat played Galway recently promoting their new album Polichinelle, so I decided to have a listen to them on CD after being so impressed with their live show.

The Prayer Boat, who hail from Wicklow, are not a band that drown their material out with digital samples, distorted guitars, and shouting lyrics. They’re the complete opposite in fact.

The title track opens the album, and is a beautiful piece of genuinely entertaining music. Right from the start, as with their live gigs, the thing that stands out about the Prayer Boat is Emmett Tinley’s voice: it’s about as powerful as you’re likely to hear from any male artist around. He slides from gentle melodies to high-pitched choruses without any hesitation or difficulty at all, accompanied by mainly acoustic backing with keyboards.

On some of the songs Emmett relinquishes his guitar in favour of a grand piano, which he uses to enhance the atmosphere both his voice and his brother’s classical guitar playing creates. Truly powerful.

While some tracks pick up the pace a little, the majority are thoughtful and introspective. Take ‘Saved’ for example: right from the beginning the whole mood of the song created by all the elements involved is emotional.

An album which would be done justice by listening to it with a bottle of wine or the like. Decent indeed, although not for the fast paced.

OUR RATING: 9 out of 10 - Keith Barrett



HOT PRESS May 12th 1999



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