Tony McLoughlin 'The Contender' - Wild Eye

Based in Germany, this experienced singer songwriter has been releasing critically acclaimed records since his debut in year 2000.

The 13 songs here are very much based in the tradition of driving rock arangements and reflective ballads with much to recommend the playing and melodies on display.

Tony McLoughlin sings with a strong, lived in, vocal style reminiscent of many old American troubadours who have lived the highs and lows of a life on the road. Kicking off with a very appropriate song ‘The Contender’ with its boxing imagery, this could be just as well sung about the artist himself; ‘The bigger they come, the harder they fall; I’ll be the last man standing, I’ll fight them all’. A driving beat with some fine guitar playing pushes this song forward with a real statement of intent.

Opting for a ballad as the second song loses some of this bright momentum and however excellent ‘I Found a Star’, I can’t help wishing that the song order had served up another rock production to continue the pace.

In all, there are 5 different electric guitar players, across the 13tracks and their respective playing is of a very high standard throughout. It is the guitar histrionics that lift the songs beyond the ordinary and the clear production sound delivered by both Tony McLoughlin and Ben Reel adds to the sense that we are listening to a quality recording.

The Country feel of ‘In the Time’ brings a new colour to the record before ‘Turn the Music On’ recovers that previous attitude and swagger.

Mixed into the song choices are some nice ballads that highlight the fine vocals of Tony McLoughlin and the slow burn of ‘Keep Your Powder Dry’ stands up well against the kick provided by the heat of ‘Harlan Road’ with the band finding a whole different gear.

Many bright moments to enjoy then, with plenty of impressive playing and a rewarding listening experience.