GIVEN STRANGE Brew Rekkids' releases to date have been firmly rooted in electronica, the sound of a gentle electric guitar, piano, and an oboe playing a melody faintly recalling Bette Midler's 'The Rose', is the last thing you expect to hear.
Yet this is what greets the ears in 'I Saw The Man II', the 'prologue' piece which opens Frankly, I Mutate, the debut album by Dublin singer-songwriter Paddy Hanna, the latest Strange Brew Rekkids release, which will be officially launched with a show in the Róisín Dubh on Saturday March 2 at 8pm.
Hanna's music ranges from chanson to country ('Ida' ) to late night rumination ('Spanish Smoke' ), and odd-ball pop ('Reverend's Grave' ), underpinned by a knack for a big chorus or an arresting hook. The acoustic guitars, piano, and orchestra arrangements deliberately recall the kind Lee Hazlewood and Scott Walker employed in the 1960s, and more recently Richard Hawley. Above it all Hanna's voice soars free, a deep, manly, croon one minute, a country drawl the next, all Bryan Ferry mannered and eccentric after that ('Bad Boys', 'Toulouse The Kisser' ).
Yet this unpredictability works. In the context of his particular brand of retro, sophisticated, quirky, yet infectious pop, it sounds just right. Witness the jaunty, sixties style, swing of 'Mario Lanza' - yet underneath the song's upbeat, seemingly carefree demeanour, lies a core of deep emotion: "My father went through a terrible illness which left him in a coma for two weeks," Hanna recalls. "While struggling to deal with the strain I began listening through some rough demos I had, one of which was a ditty about Mario Lanza. I decided to finish it off and realised I was channelling my pain through this track. Mario Lanza, in essence, became my dad. Through him I could express the emotions I had repressed, which is why the song is tinged with a sorrowful joy."
Odd, yet intelligent; challenging, yet accessible, Hanna is a left-of-centre talent, and Frankly, I Mutate justifies the hype around him at the moment. Admission to the show is free.