What in God's name have they been putting in the water over on the Emerald Isle? Has anyone else noticed that for the past few years, just about every other acoustic hit-maker has also been a Dubliner? Maybe it has something to do with that city's maternal street-musician culture; even Damien Rice and members of The Frames perfected their chops while performing for coins on Grafton Street, where buskers are seen less as beggars than as an important addition to the town's artistic barometer. (And also as valuable tourist attractions.)
But Mark Geary, while fully competent in a folksy, love-song sort of way, is no Damien Rice. Perhaps unwisely, he left Ireland himself a decade ago to try his luck in New York; Dubliners in particular delight in noting that his current stateside success is due largely to the efforts of Irish fans and critics. He even continues to gig occasionally at Whelan's, the well-known venue on Dublin's Wexford Street.
Geary's sophomore release, Ghosts, is a half-dozen forgettable numbers and two catchy pop tracks that were clearly written with a radio audience in mind: "You're the Only Girl" and "A Prayer for St. Rita," both understated, but pleasing enough for, say, the adult-alternative or alt-country demographic. While certainly a worthy enough addition to the collection of any singer-songwriter completist, Ghosts ultimately fails to live up to the challenge of its peers. Perhaps a move home is in order?