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Boomkat Product Review:
The Mercury Prize-nominated Irish singer-songwriter returns with a sophomore album that departs from the fingerpickin' folksy ways of his debut The End Of History, instead taking on far more of a full-band feel - on The Shadow Of An Empire, Regan goes electric, if you will. Having released a truly wince-worthy preview single in the form of 'Protection Racket' (featuring the line "These big companies/Are giving us the squeeze/Let's raise our glasses to Mr. Onassis", lest we forget) it comes as a relief to find the full-length isn't quite such a car crash. More than ever the Bob Dylan influence is heavily pronounced, and you get the sense that Regan desperately wants this long-player to be his very own Highway 61, aping the lyrical style and delivery whilst even aping the production to some extent. 'Genocide Matinee' and the willfully anachronistic 'House Detective' are especially guilty of this, although the album isn't without its high points: while many of Regan's lyrical toils feel painfully wrought (something underlined by his tendency to over-annunciate his every syllable) the album's title track is a worthy effort. 'The Shadow Of An Empire' is a yarn about hard times, using miniature character portraits to decent effect, suggesting that once he shakes off the tendency to mimic his heroes rather too explicitly, Regan might yet become a fine songwriter.