On 27 March 2018, Donegan release their debut concept album, “1st XI”. Donegan are an eponymous family band: songwriter Thomas is also the main vocalist and also plays piano, organ, guitars and synths, with Emmet on guitar, mandolin and vocals and Martin on percussion. The new album and its singles prosper from collaboration with renowned producer Chris Coulter, who recently took Arcane Roots to no. 1 in the UK Indie charts.
Two of its single releases have been well-received in the independent music scene. Reminisce [RateNewMusic’s single of the week], dealt in the joyful sparks of first love, whilst Candles [attracting notable radio play] addressed darker themes such as anguish, conflict and regret, built alongside yearning melodies and captivating string arrangements. The new album’s songs are broadly linked together as a study on love, ordered from first attraction to its conclusion.
Among the most notable new tracks is I Wonder, a reflective folk-rock piece originating from Emmet and featuring his acoustic guitars, mandolin, harmonica and backing vocals. Indie-rock anthem The End features Thomas and Coulter playing three lead guitars (plus bass and two rhythm guitars), vocal duets and a synthesised brass section.
The album aims to comprise a study of love from its opening sparks to dying embers. It also includes a thematic interlude, acting as metaphor for argument, Television and Democracy evidencing a more political angle to Donegan’s repertoire. To round off the genre-fest, the album’s film-score-esque opener, Requiemfeatures a full orchestra, four-piece choir and rock drum set.
With a wealth of musical variety and an engaging narrative journey, Donegan’s full-length debut is replete with varied and adventurous instrumentation across a range of genres. The band intend 1st XI to be a true “album” in the traditional sense of that word – with 11 strong tracks that, taken as a whole, tell a coherent story and bring the listener on a journey which will resonate differently with each listener. 1st XI will be released online and available for sales of the physical CD at retailers from 27 March 2018.
Playlist: 1 Requiem, 2 Reminisce, 3 Around the World, 4 Waking (2018), 5 I Wonder, 6 Democracy, 7 Television (2018), 8 Falling, 9 Human Behaviour, 10 Candles, 11 The End.