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← Album review: HAKEN – The Mountain Quick plays: RUSTY SHACKLE, STEPHEN KELLOGG, THE DUNWELLS, ROD PICOTT → Album review: TONY McLOUGHLIN – The Contender Posted on September 7, 2013 by admin He may look uncannily like Billy Connolly’s long lost brother, but opening with strains of Muhammad Ali getting ready to ‘rumble in the jungle’, Tony Mcloughlin’s fifth album The Contender is a glorious Telecaster-infused slab of Tom Petty/Springsteen inspired Americana. Working once again with fellow Northern Ireland countryman Ben Reel, this time with McLoughlin co-producing, and with the same rhythm section of Ronnie O’Flynn (bass) and Michael Black (drums), The Contender features the six string virtuosity of long term collaborator German born, Nashville based German Thomm Jutz, German bluesman Timo Gross, and respected Monaghan musician Mick McCarney. Pete Feenstra pronounced McLoughlin’s last outing as encapsulating ‘all that is good in the contemporary roots rock genre’.  And on the strength of The Contender, I’d have to concur – the songs while borrowing heavily on the likes of Petty, stand tall in their own right, and while McLoughlin’s Petty / Springsteen / Knopfler imbued vocals are equally derivative, there’s a shimmering vibrancy that’s reflective of much of Reel’s own recent work. The Americana market is an overcrowded place at present, but there’s a gritty soul about that The Contender that makes McLoughlin one of its premier exponents.  Classy.  **** Review by Pete Whalley ” - Pete Whalley

— Get Ready To Rock

Review of album "Tall Black Horse" 2007 McLoughlin’s lived-in vocals, the superb sound of the guitars and melodies that will have you both smiling and tearful all add to the soulfulness of these songs and it is that, despite never hiding his influences, which makes McLoughlin stand out from the pack. It is called keeping it real and showing some emotion. -----Malcom Carter/Penny Black Music (UK)” - Malcolm Carter

— Pennyblack Music UK

As a songwriter, the Americana-based act dazzles with each cut on the disc – whether it be the introspective “You Look To Me” or the 70s Pop / Folk sounds of the well-written “Mother’s Son.” He also shows his skills on guitar, delivering some very strong licks to “You Look For It All,” and turns in a Springsteen-ish type performance on the stirring “Let The River Run.” No, you’re not going to find McLoughlin’s music next to Taylor or Katy on the radio, but if you like music from an artist who has been around the block a few times and can sing about the mistakes they have made – as well as the lessons learned from them, give this a try. Chances are, you’ll be glad you did!” - Chuck Dauphin

Music News Nashville,Oct 4,2011

“As a songwriter, the Americana –based act dazzles with each cut on the disc!” ----Chuck Dauphin/ Music News Nashville (US) “The epic closing number, Treeline, is quite spectacular and possibly the album highlight on a collection full of highlights…an album well worth seeking out.” ----Alan Cackett/Maverick (UK) “Ride The Wind by Tony McLoughlin plays up the abrasive side of his personality as a smoke screen, to deflect attention from how much he exposes himself. His route is risky and open on a levelthat's shocking. He redefines country in ter ms of heart-on-the-sleeve expression.” ----John Shelton Ivany/ JSI Top 21, Capitola, CA (US) “Well-traveled and clued-up musically, songwriter McLoughlin delivers his fourth album, Ride The Wind, a highly charged and cohesive collection of songs.” ---- Allan Wilkinson/Northern Sky (UK) “Tony’s songs unfold like a series of tales, a delightful journey across the plains in the capable hands of an evocative songwriter.” ----Pete Feenstra/Get Ready to Rock (UK) “ McLoughlin takes you on an easy ride with tunes you simply can’t deny! This is truly a hell of an album!” www.billybop.be “the melodies flow, the playing is superb , and McLoughlin makes a strong case for being up with the best of our current vocalists…the perfect album..” ----Malcolm Carter/Pennyblack Music (UK)” - Various Publications

— Quotes Summary

Tony McLoughlin : Tall Black Horse Author: Malcolm Carter Published: 27/10/2011 It is that time of year again when the major record labels are either repackaging fairly recently released albums again with bonus tracks or video clips, releasing box sets of albums that we already own separately in the hope that we fall for the hype and purchase them just once more or finally releasing ‘lost’ albums that most reviewers have been fooled into believing really are classics when all that is truthfully outstanding is the packaging they now come in. So instead of being taken in by it all but still wanting to look back as we all do at the close of a year over not just the music that came out during the last twelve months but during the last few years, I’ve turned to an artist who impressed so many in 2010 with his ‘Ride the Wind’ album. Irish born Tony McLoughlin won a good many new fans with that fourth album and checking out his previous albums was only a matter of time. ‘Tall Black Horse’, which McLoughlin released way back in 2007, was his third album and, although ‘Ride The Wind’ has proved to be one of those albums that is never far from the CD player just now, ‘Tall Black Horse’ has the edge over its predecessor. Firstly not one of the twelve songs on ‘Tall Black Horse’ sounds half a decade old; this album could have been released this year. Secondly this is only one of a handful of albums that have reached these ears in the last twelve months that sounds like some thought has been given to the running order of the songs. While it has to be admitted that, as every cut here is of such a high standard, it wasn’t so important as to which song actually started the album, the opening ‘How Can I Get to You?’ is the perfect example of just what Tony McLoughlin is all about. The opening shot of drums gives way to one of McLoughlin’s catchy guitar lines. It is one of those moments when you just know that good things are about to happen and once those strong, solid and warm vocals come in that smile that crossed your face when you heard that guitar for the first time just grows and grows. Sure, all those influences which McLoughlin doesn’t even try to disguise shine through. You will hear Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and even Mark Knopfler all in just that opening track but McLoughlin gets away with it because his songs are so well-crafted, so real. Solid is the word that keeps coming to mind when listening to ‘Tall Black Horse’. McLoughlin’s lived-in vocals, the superb sound of the guitars and melodies that will have you both smiling and tearful all add to the soulfulness of these songs and it is that, despite never hiding his influences, which makes McLoughlin stand out from the pack. It is called keeping it real and showing some emotion. ‘Look Around’ which follows that stunning opening track is cut from a very similar cloth,. There is a searing guitar solo (apart from McLoughlin’s own superb guitar work the much admired Thomm Jutz, well known for his work with Joe Gibbs, Nanci Griffith and Mary Gauthier, does his usual wonderful job with an array of different instruments as well as producing the album) and it features one of McLoughlin’s trademark sing-along choruses. It’s also during this song that you check out who the musicians are on ‘Tall Black Horse’. How many times can you honestly say that you’ve been mightily impressed by the drummer as early as the second song on an album? Seeing the name of Pat McInerney, who has also worked with Gibbs, Griffith and many others, credited as the drummer clears that one up then. But not even those opening two songs prepare you for what follows; ‘Hard Heart’. Lyrically a simple love song, it’s blessed with a breathtaking melody, sympathetic playing from all concerned, the most emotional vocal performance yet from McLoughlin and a touch of genius from whoever came up with the idea of getting Toni Catlin to add her sweet, touching vocals to a song that never fails to move you. ‘Hard Heart’ has been tucked away on an album that is five years old and it is one of the best songs I’ve heard all this year. McLoughlin is one of those artists who can straddle various genres while never quite settling in any particular one, which is yet another reason while his music always sounds so fresh and inviting. Mixing folk, rock, and blues is nothing new but McLoughlin, by injecting soul into each and every song gets through where others fail. He is not afraid to experiment either; the addition of fiddle and banjo to ‘Like a Saint’ proves that young, contemporary folk bands have learnt a thing or two from McLoughlin. McLoughlin has been around long enough to know that what he does isn’t going to change the world, but it is certainly a much better place when his music plays. If ‘Tall Black Horse’ had been released in 2011 and not 2007 it would, without a doubt, be in my top five albums of this year. It certainly beats any of those repacked, re-promoted sets that we’re currently getting thrust upon us.” - Malcolm Carter

Pennyblackmusic(UK)

The Irish performer and songwriter Tony McLoughlin has created a catalogue of literate songs that shine a spotlight in the dark corners of our real lives,while at the same time blending elements of country,folk,americana,and rock into his overall sound.His lived-in voice and captivating melodies can take you places you've never been before.” - Jackie Hayden

— Hot Press Magazine

Tony McLoughlin Quote Sheet “…the songs seem to be life stories and though more of a rootsy-rock sound than country, they are at times quite emotional, especially Mother’s Son, opening rocker You Look To Me and I Like The Way. The epic closing number, Treeline, is quite spectacular and possibly the album highlight on a collection full of highlights…an album well worth seeking out.” - Alan Cackett, Maverick, UK “Tony’s songs unfold like a series of tales that in due course reveal more about the writer bit by bit…he may be rooted in folk and his guitar lines may be derived from rock, but Ride the Wind is a delightful journey across the plains in the capable hands of an evocative songwriter.” - Pete Feenstra, Get Ready to Rock, UK “The opening track, You Look To Me, where McLoughlin wears his Petty influences proudly on his sleeve, is a solid rocker…there is not a single song on this ten-track album that makes you hit the skip button. In fact you’re more likely to want to play the whole album through again as soon as it is finished.” - Malcolm Carter, Penny Black Music, UK “There is clearly a confidence in the songwriting and playing…the songs rock with just a little extra effort…the music and the passion are more than enough to keep this one on the short list of albums I want to replay often.” - David Hintz, FolkWorld, Issue 43, Germany “Well-traveled and clued-up musically, songwriter McLoughlin delivers his fourth album, Ride The Wind, a highly charged and cohesive collection of songs…each with a tight and ‘together’ arrangement.” - Allan Wilkinson, Northern Sky, UK There is something within artists like Tony McLoughlin that strikes a chord…despite the lack of fame and fortune knocking on their door, they remained faithful to their mistress, music. Ride The Wind is a well crafted album full of strong songs from a man with a lot of experience of life to share. It contains elements of poetry blended with a bluesy core. It's an album of experience and expression.” - www.fatea-records.co.uk “The songs are memorable, the more so with repeated play…a healthy roots stew that should give satisfaction to those who like their music with some age and dirt on it…songs with a kick and some substance.” - www.lonesomehighway.com” - various authors

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