'Under the Influence' is an album of two halves. Both of which are carried through by strong themes of love and relationships. The Influence in question seems undoubtedly to be love. Though, judging from some of the other lyrics here; it's not the only influence in question.
In the smooth and soulful opening half, a timeless sound is established and it tells a timeless tale of love and romance. Lyrically, they are often paeans to lovers and they are backed by atmospheric brass sections and sophisticated keys and guitars. On "Stay" and "Even Flow", Finnian is joined by a vocalist Stephanie Winters too, giving the songs another dimension.
This is a warm and familiar sound for uncertain times. I can picture enjoying it at the start of an August sunset with a bunch of merry friends. By blissful ballad "Don't Want To See You Go" and the gospel-inspired vintage soul of "Out of Sight" he really is hitting his stride.
Then, on "Fly" the album takes on an unusual left-turn. Undoubtedly a live favourite in waiting, its echoing drums and tumbling banjo are more up-front and poppy. It has the flavour of 'Exile on Main St'-era Stones. And it's rock n roll feel is apt, being on that common theme of escapism.
The momentum remains on "Lifted Up". This song seems to take you to the hazy heart of a night out. As the lyric deserves, "Lifted Up" is full of life; a party atmosphere created by horns, organs et al.
Earlier songs saw the singer almost romanticising by candlelight, by "The Devil in The Flashing Lights" he's seemingly in full flow on a dance floor. The song can't help but bring to mind Stevie Wonder in his pomp.
Closer, "I Don't Want to Fall In Love" is another big tune. The singer battling with himself during a romantic conquest in a bar.
With this massively anticipated album, Finnian has done justice to the fine assortment of musicians and producer assembled with his ageless display of song-writing. An album about love indeed and one that looks at it from many viewpoints and stages.
Written By Matt Nicholson