3 Dec 2022
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Stephen McDaid - Album Review: Trail Maps

23 May 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Here we have the debut solo album from Stephen McDaid, who has been somewhat busy helping out his in-law’s by playing on both Guy Hobson and Kay Duncan’s recent releases, but now he has found time to go out on his own. Given that he has been adding guitar to both those other albums it is no surprise that this is the primary instrument, but here it is an acoustic which is the perfect accompaniment to his strong vocals. Stephen grew up playing in his father’s country and western band, and here we find him very much his own man, performing solo with no need for overdubs or additional instruments, just a singer and his guitar. 

I often feel this is the truest style of music one can have, just a performer accompanying themselves with no room to hide, and no need for trickery. This is not about who can mime the best while performing impossible dance routines, or be the product of a very clever producer and team of writers, but rather here is someone baring their soul, with nothing but their acoustic guitar for protection. He is an excellent guitarist, but that was something of a given, but here is also a fine singer with passion and honesty in his voice. Sometimes he picks, sometimes he strikes chords, but always with real grit and determination in all that he does. The name of the album is evocative, as one can imagine Stephen out on the trail with just his guitar and horse for company. 

There are some moments, such as on the beginning of Sentinel, where I think he is going to provide us with a lengthy instrumental, but it is just his way of bringing us into yet another song of great depth and passion. It may be acoustic, but there is a force at play here which shows that one does not need electric instruments and loads of volume to show that one can really rock. Even though it is just him and his acoustic, performing live, there are multiple layers within his music, taking us on a journey as we never know what is going to happen next or where his songs are going to lead us. 

One can imagine him playing with the likes of Adam McGrath, as he has a similar honest to the bones approach, and the result is an album which is thoroughly enjoyable throughout. 

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Stephen McDaid

Hailing from Culdaff on Ireland's most northernly coastline, Stephen comes from a musical family and began by playing bass in his Dad's Country and Western band while at primary school.

His love of guitar playing led him to Dublin's thriving original music scene.
Moving to NZ in 2006, Stephen has appeared at festivals and venues all over the country.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Stephen McDaid

Releases

Trail Maps
Year: 2022
Type: Album

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