You could say Belfast songwriter Gareth Dunlop has been working up to this moment for a long time. Releasing two EP's and a number of singles since 2014, all while working as a songwriter for publishers and other artists in Nashville, Tennessee; Dunlop finally got his debut album “No.79” ready for release this month.
“No.79” brought on a new challenge for the singer, choosing to record the whole album in his own home in Belfast, however, Dunlop was up for the challenge as “No.79” shows a talented band of players using their limitations to their advantage, creating a fantastically produced record. Opener “New Day” is a fantastic start to the album, one that will no doubt grab the attention of first-time listeners.
Dunlop's acoustic guitar playing is absolutely lovely throughout the whole record, and fortunately, he is restrained to never let it overbear the song and it melds in with the other instruments and players that serve the songs well. Drummer Matt Weir and bassist Bobby Hamrick; who also helped produce the record, really stand out on the record for me. Their tight, rhythmic playing together really serves the record well, especially on tracks like “High Life” and “Do What You Do” The highlight track on the album, however, has to be “She Is The Fire”. Dunlop's delicate finger picking and emotive voice throughout is gorgeous, and this song serves as the lyrical highlight. It's definitely the best showcase of the songwriting skill possessed by the Belfast Singer/Songwriter.
This album overall is a fantastic start for Gareth Dunlop. Although the lyrics can be a bit cliché and the music doesn't reinvent the wheel in the country-folk genre. I also believe that were the singer to embrace his own accent a little bit more his songs would bring something much more refreshing to the album. Each song is still incredibly solid and the chemistry of the band and the unique nature of the recording process really shines through. Gareth Dunlop is definitely one to watch from Northern Ireland.