I hope I never meet Eamon McGrath. Because if he’s not anything but the most down-to-earth, effortlessly cool man I’ve ever met I will be crushed with disappointment. Between 2006 and 2008, McGrath has written and recorded 18 albums worth of material, and 13 Songs of Whiskey and Light is a collection of choice cuts chosen by White Whale Records. As well as a staggering proficiency in song writing, McGrath probably has the most refreshingly designed myspace page – its default settings are the perfect statement. He is clearly only concerned with writing songs and it shows everywhere. Eamon McGrath reminds me of the story of Bob Dylan writing songs on a napkin in the back of a taxi on the way to the recording studio. In another world, I imagine McGrath next to him asking for the other side of the napkin to write down the song he’s just thought of. I’m tired of artists who are produced to within an inch of their life; artists who struggle to write an album every few years and disappear after 2 records. I like the fact I can hear McGrath’s chair squeak while he’s playing piano, and I don’t mind the background hiss behind every song. It puts you in the room and provides a fittingly raw touch. His addictive melodies on guitar and piano will repeat on you long after you’ve stopped listening. His playing borrows heavily from the work of blues and folk greats, but when he’s backed by a band his punk influences add an aggressive side to his music. McGrath’s voice is something between Neil Young and Tom Waits. The rough, cracked vocals sound like the death song of a pair of diseased lungs, a failing liver and a corroded windpipe: it’s a beautiful sound. Although he sounds like he’s been through ten thousand cigarettes and a couple of messy divorces, at only 20 his age hints at another story. Is this man the next brilliant drunk to rival a Cash or Waits, or is he just exceptionally talented at copying his idols? When Elliot Smith sang of depression you couldn’t doubt the man’s credentials, but with McGrath there’s a little part of you that wonders whether he just hit it a little hard at Hooters the night before. In the end, it doesn’t matter; not in the face of Desperation, Alberta – a song so fine it forces me to listen to it 3 or 4 times before moving on to the next track. Rating: 8/10