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Be It Right Or Wrong
R.S.A.G. Be It Right Or Wrong
Released 11 June 2010
Producer Leo Pearson
Label Psychonavigation
Length 43:42
Genre Alternative
Website myspace.com/rarelyseenaboveground
68

Traditionally an artist’s second offering has been labelled the "difficult second album". Often the follow up album can prove too much for some who succumb to the pressure of "difficult second album syndrome". This is a deep pit into which even the most talented artists can fall. Danish Pop powerhouse Aqua’s debut album Aquarium enjoyed a whopping fifty weeks in the US charts. Unfortunately for our Scandinavian friends, the "difficult second album syndrome" kicked in with their second release Aquarius, lasting a mere six weeks in the charts. If Aqua can’t overcome the pressures of the second album surely no one can? Pixies- Doolittle, Velvet Underground- White Light/White Heat, Radiohead– The Bends and Bob Dylan’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan come to mind, to name a few. The difference here is that the albums that preceded these works were good, thus creating the pressure which makes the second album difficult. So when R.S.A.G (Jeremy Hickey) sat down to write his second album Be It Right Or Wrong I’m pretty sure there was more Dylan than Aqua on his iPod.

R.S.A.G. had a busy first year, performing at festivals such as Castlepalooza, Oxegen and Electric Picnic. He also managed to get some television appearances under his belt including Other Voices and The Raw Sessions. His debut album Organic Sampler received a five star review from the Irish Times as well as a Choice Music Prize nomination for 'Irish Album of the Year'. In April 2009 R.S.A.G. polled thirteenth in the Irish Times list of “The 50 Best Irish Acts Right Now”.

I think it is fair to say that, since his first release, R.S.A.G. has done enough to get people to sit up and take notice of his second offering. This time around Hickey has teamed up with U2 and Elvis Costello producer Leo Pearson. Although Be It Right Or Wrong was Hickey’s first time working with a producer, he is still very much a one-man band, writing and performing all of the parts himself (as he did on his first album).

Hickey’s first album was very much dictated by rhythm and the same can be said of Be It Right Or Wrong. The percussion plays a central part to this album; however, Pearson’s production has brought the vocals more into the spotlight by pushing them right to the front of the mix. While Hickey doesn’t have a voice that would silence a room, he does have a certain quality to his voice which keeps you listening (not dissimilar at times to David Byrne). The catchy first single from the album, 'The  Roamer', showcases the shifted emphasis on the vocals.

There are definite shades of old time Rock and Roll in tracks such as 'The Mercy Plea' and the title track 'Be It Right Or Wrong'. While certain comparisons could be drawn between Hickey’s first release Organic Sampler and the music of his former band Blue Ghost, Be It Right Or Wrong sees Hickey define his own sound. It’s impossible to talk about R.S.A.G. without mentioning his live show. How this material translates to a live environment may be the true test of this album. Personally I don’t think Hickey will ever be able to record an album that could match his live show but Be It Right Or Wrong is definitely a step in the right direction.

- Aidan Farraher