Although he'd been releasing high-quality independent EPs since 2000, Irish singer/songwriter Fionn Regan rose to prominence in 2006 with his Mercury Prize-nominated debut album The End of History.
His literate, often poetic indie folk subsequently earned him praise in the U.S. as well, with Lost Highway issuing it stateside a year later. When Lost Highway refused to release his follow-up, Regan shelved it and returned to Ireland where he released a trio of well-received LPs including 2010's more rock-driven The Shadow of an Empire and the self-recorded and entirely acoustic The Bunkhouse, Vol. 1: Anchor Black Tattoo. After a temporary hiatus, he returned in the late 2010s with the atmospheric folk-pop of 2017's The Meetings of the Waters and 2019's dreamy Cala.
Born and raised in the coastal city of Bray, Ireland, Regan absorbed folk and blues influences alongside the usual rock & roll (in interviews, he has claimed inspiration ranging from Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie to the Velvet Underground and Nirvana) due to his artistic family's bohemian existence living and working at a seaside resort hotel. Picking up piano, violin, and guitar at an early age from his musician father, Regan was performing in public before he reached his tenth birthday and busking across the country by his mid-teens. Resettling in Brighton, England, he signed with the small indie Anvil Records and released two EPs, 2003's Reservoir and 2004's Hotel Room, before connecting with the more established Bella Union imprint. In search of a live, natural sound, Regan recorded his debut album, The End of History, largely in an abandoned stone barn. The album was released in Great Britain in the summer of 2006, garnering considerable praise and regular comparisons to both Damien Rice and Nick Drake, as well as two hit singles in "Put a Penny in the Slot" and "Be Good or Be Gone." Lost Highway scheduled the American release of The End of History for summer 2007. Regan set about recording a follow-up in 2008 for Lost Highway, but upon its completion they refused to release it. The record, often referred to as The Red Tapes, has never seen an official release. Regan chose to retreat to Ireland to record his next record without the involvement of a label. The Shadow of an Empire was eventually released in 2010 via Heavenly Recordings and was warmly received by the music press. 2011 and 2012 saw the release of two further records, the expansive 100 Acres of Sycamore and the spare, lo-fi The Bunkhouse, Vol. 1: Anchor Black Tattoo. This prolific period was followed by a five-year gap which saw Regan charting a new creative course. When he emerged in 2017 with The Meetings of the Waters, he had shifted toward a deeply atmospheric, electronic-laced sound that embraced shimmering pop as much as pastoral folk. 2019's Cala was a more intimate affair, meditating on themes of nature and the sea. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi