Brooklyn based Niall Connolly is at the head of a new breed of politically engaged eloquent singer-songwriters emerging from New York’s most populous borough with his immensely literate appraisals of the personal and the political. Following in the footsteps of the Low Anthem – who had a residency at the Rockwood Music Hall immediately prior to their ascent – Connolly’s performance tonight was a series of bruised but defiant takes on 21st Century Americana.
Connolly’s nu-folk sound is ably augmented by countrified kiss-the-sky guitar leads reminscent of a more guttural Neil Young but if there is any sense of nostalgia here, it’s not so much a wistful longing for home but almost for an untamed wilderness, unspoilt by settlements and sell-outs. While the anthemic ‘Skin and Bones’ is the song-most-likely-to, it’s the set closer ‘Jesus Is Coming and I Can’t Pay the Rent’ that is the summation of all that came before it, a dogged , determined melange of shaky faith and shaky fortunes amidst the financial uncertainties of the 21st Century. “Brother, the fight is fixed…” indeed.
Along with Chris Mills, Niall Connolly has fashioned a niche for himself as a fighter at the foreclosed frontier of freedom, blurring the boundaries between the routine and the revolutionary.