It’s not often I get to review something like this. In fact, this might be a first.
You may be familiar with T. Duggins of Tossers fame, and on this effort, Undone, Duggins alone gets the opportunity to shine with his brand of traditional Irish folk music. Inclusions of banjo, fiddle, and tin whistle really give it that authentic folk feel that can’t be manufactured, and Duggins’ voice could not sound more seasoned and more alive, more perfect for this record.
Singing a mix of originals and covers, including a Bob Dylan classic in “Boots of Spanish Leather,” and accompanied by the Tossers providing some background vocals, Duggins croons his away through thirteen somber tracks that cut to the core of emotion, while retaining a real tough Irish skin. It’s an interesting dichotomy to say the least, but one that lends itself well to the format of the record and the way that it’s presented.
The Dylan cover mentioned earlier is possibly the most shining example of how stunningly gorgeous and emotive this album can be. Teaming with Meghan Yeates, Duggins' voice sounds absolutely haunting as he delivers Dylan’s words, adding his own Irish flavor to it all. Yeates is nothing short of angelic, and fits the song like a snug glove. Trading stanzas back and forth, the tandem take the song to a new and even more special place than before. The fiddle comes in at the most poignant of moments, adding a good amount of depth and variation to an already stellar basis. Following this up is a much more upbeat, rousing track in “Jimmy Wilson,” complete with strong implemention of the banjo and tin whistle. Duggins sounds just at home here as with the slower tracks, and the variation he allows himself to uphold is endearing at very least.
“Children’s Potential” is a seven-minute, entirely a capella song in which Duggins explores the many problems and issues facing children and the community: “Our children depend on adults for education but, our schools are no different than pre-segregation / Nor designed the schools, unpenatlable by law / Economically forcing kids into horrible schools, public schools depend on a lot of property tax / But out initial funds and local industry tax, so a town with a deeper tax base cannot afford to pay more." Adding a social and political conscience to these songs only serve to make them that much more impacting.
From the lively, rugged sounds of the more upbeat efforts, to the gorgeous, haunting slower songs, there’s so much here to like. Irish folk done as right as Irish folk can possibly be done.