Throughout 2017 we’ve seen an uprising of folk-inspired singer-songwriters and bands of refreshing and particular interest. Among Aldous Harding’s brilliance with Party, Fleet Foxes returning to their roots with Crack-Up and Irish quintet Tandem Felix’s comeback, Berlin-based Dubliner A.S Fanning also stands out in this atypical season of folk galore with his newly released debut album Second Life.

Previously frontman and head songwriter of Porn Trauma and The Last Tycoons, both projects born in the heart of his hometown, Stephen Fanning relocated six years ago to Berlin in order to focus on other projects and for a change of scenery. Since then, he has been mostly working on his own music and with like-minded musicians, such as Candice Gordon and Louis Brennan, as a producer. Under the wing of Proper Octopus, his self-produced album speaks humbly about death, loss, transition and immigration.

With a variety of electronics and acoustic elements that build and secure a coherent layout for Fanning’s clever and gloomy lyricism, songs like ‘Carmelita’, originally released in 2015, ‘Never Been Gone’, his latest single, or ‘Dark Star’’s Cohen-esque approach show how careful word choices can cause a commotion and spotlight one's soft spot just by listening.

However, folk is not the exclusive focus on Second Life: there is also space for experimentation and combination of genres and influences. From krautrock, to rock n’ roll and jazz, this genre blend ensures A.S Fanning not to box himself in. ‘That’s Where They’ll Find You’ dives into a clear a more psychedelic path, picking out references from the teachings of NEU! and enhances Fanning’s innate tendency for catchy melodies with a Dublin twist.

With this album, A.S Fanning takes you on an emotional joy ride with songs of devotion and endured heartache. As a baritone, his voice is assertive but also endearing; a parallel could be drawn to The Horrors’ frontman Faris Badwan, if he chose to do folk. As we reach the end through ‘Empty Suitcase’ and ‘Louis Armstrong’, we ascend and finish on a light-hearted and positive note.

Second Life is a brand new opportunity to rediscover classical folk but with a modern vision. The genuine and honest way of how A.S Fanning chooses to express his thoughts, by serenading tender and profoundly vulnerable songs, reflects the traits of a musician with a strong knowledge of his capabilities, self-awareness, an eye for beauty, sensitivity and unquestionable talent.