After a critcally-acclaimed EP released earlier this year, Malojian - AKA Lurgan songwriter Stevie Scullion - became one of the most talked about names on the local music scene.
Already well-known as one-third of alt-folk act Cat Malojian , Stevie's initial recordings and round of gigs as a solo artist generated so much heat - including a ringing endorsement from Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody - that there was a real fear leading up to the release of his debut album that the long-player would fail to deliver in the face of so much hype.
Early reviews are already putting that worry to bed - if anything, us journalists should be reprimanded for not hyping this release more.
Scullion has delivered a songwriting masterclass in an album that flirts with a number of different musical styles - from the Neil Young-esque ballad 'Old Timer' to the samba-fusion insanity of 'Mario (You Brought All The Computers') by way of the jangly Beatles/Kinks influenced Julie-Anne.
It's probably during the third or fourth listen that it becomes clear that while Malojian is a jack-of-all-trades, he is clearly master of more than a few.
The move from the folk trio of Cat Malojian to recording with a full band has paid off handsomely, most of all on fuzz guitar work-out 'Checkmate', a song that should catapult Malojian into the mainstream's conciousness; It's like The Fail, Super Furry Animals and Grandaddy's best songs rolled into one unavoidably catchy tune.
Malojian - Often Wonder
As good as that is, it's not even a stand-out track. There are at least eight songs that you could make a case for being the best on the collection and when the quality is this high, that puts you firmly in classic album territory. Think The Sophtware Slump or Deserter Songs ; records that seemed to come out of nowhere to sit ubiquitously at the top of those end-of-year polls.
The album's opening song and title track is another stunner and a glowing tribute to the talents of producer Barrett Lahey . Backwards guitar combines with thumping drums and bass in a psychedelic mish-mash that sets the tone nicely.
Also worthy of mention is acoustic ballad 'Watch The Rain'. Gentle finger-picked guitar and heart-broken vocals (Stevie mournfully sings ‘I never knew the dark could be so blue’) are accompanied by strings and harmonica in a song that on paper sounds like singer-songwriter cliché but on record effortlessly outguns pretty much everything else you've heard this year.
'The Deer's Cry' is a masterful piece of work and when music sounds as effortlessly good as this, it's surely the first of many hits for the talented Malojian.
Malojian - Julie-Anne
Malojian performs in Portrush tonight at Kiwi's and The Bayview Hotel, Portballintrae tomorrow before returning to Portrush at The Atlantic Bar.
Next week's review: J Mippet - It Rolls Downhill