Non Canon is the brain child of Barry Dolan and an all together different side of the artist otherwise known as Oxygen Thief. Those of you familiar with the latter will be versed in distortion, screams and the art of deception. This self-titled debut fits in to a completely different spectrum showcasing the softer side of Dolan.
Technically this is a debut album, but not in the traditional sense of the word. With a career behind him in the form of Oxygen Thief, Dolan has a lot to live up to.
On album opener ‘Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye’, he sews his heart firmly to his sleeve in a style reminiscent of Xtra Mile label mates Frank Turner and Ducking Punches. It sets the scene for a collection of folk-driven ditties far removed from his previous work, without sounding like rejected songs from heavier projects or forced fillers of the new. Violin sits where feedback would have been and weaves its way through songs like ‘Eponymous’ and ‘A Study in Evil’. Haunting piano fills ‘Bad Twin’ while instrumental ‘1999 In Roman Numerals’ shows off passionate guitar playing minus power chords, fuzz and bends.
Dolan’s lyrical content is varied throughout but in places his musings are a little vague leaving perhaps too much to the imagination. “I’ve got no expectations/I’m not sure my heart is even in this”, may give more away than intended on a delivery that sometimes lacks the conviction needed for the style, but one which can be heard in the work of his contemporaries.
Non Canon is a journey of discovery and learning for Dolan but the fear is that this is an album that has been released before by artists with more experience and vision for the genre. A second effort could be welcomed once Non Canon has really found his feet, but until then this project may turn out to be cannon fodder to a wider, more illustrious career.
‘Non Canon’ by Non Canon is released on 28th October on Xtra Mile Recordings.
Words by Jay Harrison (@Just_Jay_89)