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I’ll Tear My Own Walls Down by Bill Coleman (BCMR)

Cork lad Bill Coleman is one of the more challenging members of the current standing army of Irish singer/songwriters. In an always overcrowded genre, usually synonymous with anguished, acoustic, bed-sit navel-gazing, he is an edgy cut above the introspective herd. But, then again, as one wag put it, Bono and Thom Yorke are singer/songwriters: they just have loud bands behind them.

The proof’s in the pudding, and this debut album, released on his own BCMR label, is consistently excellent, with no discernable weakest link in the eleven tracks. The reasons for this are manifold: the dexterity of his fierce finger-picking, which will draw inevitable comparisons with Nick Drake and Elliott Smith; the raw tenderness of his voice; and, perhaps most of all, the fact that he really beats himself up in his thoughtful, subtle lyrics, but although dangerously self-lacerating, is never whingingly self-pitying. Instead, having confronted his demons, he offers hard-won hope, through finding inner strength and resilience.




This is most evident in the title track’s declaration: ‘I’ll prove you wrong’. Songs like ‘Devilette’ and ‘Bound’ interrogate the machismo role, while ‘The Pull of the Pint’ (where the protagonist, mirror-like, addresses himself as ‘you’) and ‘Say It Like You Mean It’ (with its bracing guitar solo) further examine male shortcomings. ‘First On Me’ perfectly captures the giddy surprise of new love, and the mutual self-abasing of both partners in ‘All There Is’ is movingly revealing. But the lines ‘I’m sick to death of mediocrity/Especially my own’, from ‘In My Head’, tell you exactly what Bill is all about.

Don’t let this one pass you by.

First published in Magill, July/August 2007.













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