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Cathal Coughlan

After Cathal Coughlan's old band Fatima Mansions -- an edgy English band notorious for their vicious cover of Brian Adams's "Everything I Do (I Do It for You)" -- dissolved in the mid-'90s, thanks to the wear and tear of nonstop contractual disputes, the Irish-born musician turned his sights to solo work (he had actually performed solo previously as Fatima Mansions Singular). After his 1996 solo debut, Grand Necropolitan, Coughlan returned in 1999 with the haunting, beautifully textured Black River Falls.

Coughlan's solo material fairly glitters with narrative ingenuity and dark, measured intelligence. These lushly arranged songs borrow lightly from Irish folk, gospel, blues, rock, and punk in telling their seamy, ironic stories of life gone wrong. Couglan's hard dusky voice often recalls Nick Cave's, as does his penchant for heavily narrative, often gloomy lyrics (his material also owes a debt to Scott Walker). Coughlan's songs have a brooding, Brechtian theatricality, augmented by their copious use of strings and reeds, so it figures that he has now begun working on movie soundtracks.

"The Ghost of Limehouse Cut" is the brilliant opening track to Black River Falls.

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