Feudal Records - Emmett Tinley
The first thing that strikes you on hearing music from The Prayer Boat is a voice that send a shiver down your spine but a warm glow to your soul. Emmett Tinley is a truly gifted singer with an astonishing vocal range. It gives The Prayer Boat sound a certain uniqueness complimented with beautifully crafted songs that make that’ connection the listener - the opportunity to immerse yourself in music.
Dark Green was the first independent single released by the band in late 1995 - a chart hit and subsequently in the critics ‘Top 20 Singles of the Year’ in the national music paper Hot Press. This was followed in Summer 1996 by another single Saved, another chart hit which won them the 2TV/Coca Cola ‘Best Unsigned Irish Band’ Award and a nomination for the industry ‘IRMA’ Awards. In fact both songs were voted single of the week in Hot Press.
"POLICHINELLE," the Prayer Boat's 1999 release, is a collection of exquisitely crafted songs, marked by the Irish band's evocative acoustic-based musical backdrops and songwriter Emmett Tinley's astonishing vocals. Clear and pure and true, Tinley's urgent tenor is a magnificently resonant instrument, a voice which sends shivers up the spine and sweeps the heart away on such evocative and enigmatic songs as "Dead Flowers" or the incandescent title track. Hailed in America as 2000's "Album of the Year" by Billboard's Larry Flick, "POLICHINELLE" is a true gem, a brilliantly multi-faceted work which has the feel of something timeless.
Based in the town of Blessington, County Wicklow, just 20 miles out of Dublin, brothers Emmett and Patrick Tinley first convened the Prayer Boat in 1987, inspired by American songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, as well as the intensely contemplative Glaswegian group, the Blue Nile. In 1991, the band released their debut album, "OCEANIC FEELING" on BMG/RCA. Though critically acclaimed, sales were meagre and they eventually parted ways with the label. From there, the Prayer Boat embarked on a stormy journey through various recording and publishing deals until they found themselves back at square one with just a manager at the start of 1997.
At that point Tinley set out for New York to showcase the Prayer Boat to US audiences and labels, anyone who would listen, and by year’s end he had returned to Dublin with a number of newly penned songs and plans for making the record that would be "POLICHINELLE". The Prayer Boat spent January and February of 1998 ensconced in a Dublin studio recording "POLICHINELLE". Recorded and mixed against the clock, the album was completed in time for the annual South By Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas and as a result the group began to attract attention in America.
Although initially only available at gigs, in the spring of 1999 the album was commercially released in Ireland on Invisible Records and, with new artwork and some alternate mixes, on Setanta Records in the UK. There were also sporadic releases in Holland, France and Spain. A development deal with Rick Rubin at American Recordings brought Tinley to Los Angeles later in that year where he began working on future Prayer Boat recordings. In the end, however, American were hesitant to release "POLICHINELLE" as it was and Tinley returned to Dublin with an urge to change direction.
Meanwhile, "POLICHINELLE" was garnering rave reviews from the notoriously hard-to-please U.K. music press. "The perfect record for heartbroken insomniacs," raved Q, declaring the album "sweetly melancholic and rather sublime." NME declared the record to be "quite stunning," while Melody Maker cited the tracks "It Hurts To Lose You" and "In My Arms Again" as "rich heartbreakers" in a 4 star (out of 5) review. As Tinley's work drew long-overdue praise, the songwriter set off on travels around Scandinavia.
Writing and jamming with mainly jazz musicians Tinley found himself and his creative muse rejuvenated, finally moving south to settle in Amsterdam with the idea of making a new Prayer Boat album on a small advance from Setanta. But just three weeks later he got a call from Craig Kallman at Atlantic Records in New York who was ecstatic about "POLICHINELLE" and wanted to release it unchanged and as soon as possible. The album was released in March 2001 in the US and was followed by several solo and support tours of the US and Canada, a very successful tour with Ron Sexsmith among them.
"POLICHINELLE" shows a band at the peak of their powers, creating music of extraordinary majesty and heart-rending melancholy. Songs such as the finely etched "It Hurts To Lose You" or the elegaic "Saved" evince a purity and intimacy. Key to the Prayer Boat's power is Tinley's expansive and emotional vocal stylings. As a songwriter, he crafts his lyrics and melodies to blend in such a way that maximum effect is gained from both his voice and the band's delicately hewn music. As for the album's title, "POLICHINELLE" is derived from 'Pulcinella,' the famous buffoon of the Italian commedia dell'arte. As the character spread thoughout European theater in the mid-Seventeenth Century, the name morphed into the French 'Polichinelle,' as well as the English 'Punch.'
Even with the many ebbs and flows of their career, the Prayer Boat's achingly confessional music has found devotees around the world. Now, 10 years since its first official release, The Prayer Boat’s "POLICHINELLE" has been digitally remastered and is being re-released with the original artwork and track listing through Feudal Records. The hope is that this massively underrated album will find a brand new audience.
Emmett Tinley - Attic Faith
"In the spring of 2000 U.S. born but Irish raised musician Emmett Tinley moved to Denmark, hooked up with some musicians and began to explore some new angles on what he was trying achieve. To cut a very long story short, the result is ‘Attic Faith’, 10 beautifully string laden soaring songs, recorded with Nick Cave and Beth Orton producer Victor Van Vugt. The story of ‘Attic Faith’ is a long and winding one, inter-twined with that of his previous band The Prayer Boat and a new out look on life influenced by his move to the European mainland. In April 2002 producer Victor Van Vugt came to Århus, Denmark to meet Emmett. They went to New York at the beginning of March 2003 and did 10 days of pre-production with Victor at a Manhattan rehearsal room. The musicians on the album all came from the European mainland and laid a lush expansive canvass shrouding Emmett's soaring voice. The day after the invasion of Iraq, they began tracking the album at a studio in Hoboken, New Jersey. Though not the original plan, the days were long. Many versions of the songs were laid down as the mood dictated with the intention of capturing as much of a song in one take as possible. After 3 weeks, and with all the tracking done, they moved to a studio overlooking Times Square in Manhattan. The incessant noise and activity helped to inject the music with energy and immediacy while still being able to focus on the source of the songs. This was a very different atmosphere to any Emmett ever recorded in before and was exactly what I wanted. The result is a hugely compelling album, containing dramatic strings and sombre ballads. A lush, expansive work, Attic Faith stands out from the crowd by it's huge sense of drama and Emmett's remarkable voice.
Previously Emmett Tinley's recorded output has been as a member of The Prayer Boat but in the last few years a series of solo shows and an appearance on Other Voices (both the TV programme and the compilation album) have set the scene for his solo career. Although signed to Atlantic Records in the States, Independent Records has licensed the album for exclusive release in Ireland."
All Music Guide review
With the confessional, dramatic style of singer and primary songwriter Emmett Tinley, Irish group the Prayer Boat has drawn comparisons to artists such as Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Coldplay, and Travis. The group released their stateside debut, Polichinelle, in 2000 -- though they had been together since the late '80s. The Prayer Boat, named after a spiritual festival that draws millions to the Ganges River in India, started in County Wicklow, Ireland, in 1987. The band signed to RCA in 1989, releasing its debut, Oceanic Feeling, in 1991. The album was received well critically but sold poorly. Shortly afterward, the group moved to Glasgow and in 1994 signed to Almo Sounds, an independent label started by A&M founders Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss. The Bury This Thing EP, produced by Dick Meaney (My Bloody Valentine, Beth Orton), followed shortly afterward. The 1995 single "Dark Green" became a hit for the group, while 1996's "Saved" won them the Coca-Cola's Best Unsigned Irish Band award. 1998 saw the release of Polichinelle in Europe. The album hit the States in 2000, drawing accolades from the likes of Billboard, among others.
Dublin band The Prayer Boat got their name from a Hindu religious festival that takes place every year on the banks of the Ganges: “They make these little reed boats with incense and candles, and they invest their hopes, dreams, and prayers in them and then float them out into the river”.
The Prayer Boat are; Emmett Tinley (vocals, guitars, piano & keyboards) Patrick Tinley (electric & Acoustic Guitar), Tony Byrne (Bass Guitar), Tim Houlihan (drums) Emmett has now relocated to Denmark and built a band up with some of Denmark’s most prestigious young musicians who have all attended the Fynske Music Conservatory.
Polichinelle is an album of exquisite beauty and powerful sensuality. The album is compromised of songs written over a period of three years and recorded in Dublin. The album was released late last year in Holland and France where it garnered one of the best albums of the year in Holland’s leading ‘Orr’ magazine. It is also receiving strong positive reactions in the UK where it is being preceded by the Saved EP (video available) Melody Maker says “heartbreak never sounded this attractive”.
“‘Polichinelle’ doesn’t pretend to be anything other than the loneliness and the urgency, the despair and the excitement of trying to run through life.”
2FM RTÉ - Emmett Tinley "Attic Faith" April 28 2005
Former frontman with The Prayer Boat, Emmett Tinley's new album is emotive and lyrically beautiful, but there's not much cheer here.
Opening track 'Comfort Me', about doubt and dysfunction in relationships, sets the scene thematically on 'Attic Faith'. It's followed by 'Heart Still Breaking', concentrating on memories of a lost love and 'Snow Dome', about a turbulent break up.
'I Want You' is the only upbeat, celebratory song about love, while 'Snow Dome' also ups the tempo. Together they bring a welcome change in mood from mournful tracks like 'Amsterdam Weeps' and 'Heart Still Breaking'.
Lyrically, 'Attic Faith' is top stuff as evidenced in, "It's a lie honey, what I follow/But it's the sweetest thing I've swallowed', from 'I Want You'. There's a real emotional maturity to the lyrics throughout that's very engaging.
Touching and memorable songs make 'Attic Faith' very heartfelt and honest. It would be nice if it was a bit livelier, though.
Katie Moten, 3/5
MusicOMH - Polichinelle - June 5 2000
Something of a surprise, this first mass-release effort from Ireland's Emmett Tinley and his band. Lots of bands at this stage of their musical shelf-life immediately sound like someone else, some lack cohesiveness, many suffer from their material rather than any lack of ability to perform. None of these phrases would be appropriate descriptions for The Prayer Boat, the band that ostensibly is Emmett Tinley, songwriter, singer and guitarist.
Polichinelle is an album free from studio-added clutter which acts, as was surely meant, as a showcase for Tinley's natural, effortless talent. The production is slick and tidy, emphasising the album's most striking quality - Tinley's vocal powers. He sounds like a mix of all the good points of the voices of Mick Hucknall, Thom Yorke and Paul Young, while his acoustic guitar reminds the listener of Ani DiFranco in one of her rare quiet moods; the combination is at once soothing and spiritual.
On Polichinelle, The Prayer Boat present us with eleven beautifully-crafted tunes that simply jump into the memory and refuse to leave. If there is a weak track on this album I've yet to find it and, when they play live, nothing is lost from the atmospheric moodiness of the album.
If success in the music industry depends upon the dual pillars of songwriting talent and effortless performing ability then The Prayer Boat could well be a band to watch out for; this is a most promising debut.
The Sunday Times - "Attic Faith" - December 2006
Pop CD of the Week:
Emmett Tinley: Attic Faith
In one corner, Mick Hucknall and David Gray; in the other, Ben Christophers and the Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan. All of them soulful vocalists who not only carry a tune, but transform it into resonant sonic magic. Hucknall and Gray top the charts; Christophers and Buchanan have both made music of exceptional, almost unbearable beauty, yet make do with the retail crumbs beneath their rivals’ tables. Where does Emmett Tinley — late of the Prayer Boat — fit in? Musically, midway. Commercially? The heart says sales in the millions; the head, be realistic, he’ll attract plaudits, but struggle for the paying customers. It’s hard to find a single bar on this wonderful album that might deter fans of Hucknall or Gray, or repel those who cleave to Christophers or Buchanan. Does that not suggest a large audience? Well, it should, and tracks as startlingly intimate as Amsterdam Weeps, Heart Still Breaking and Comfort Me could yet connect with one. Four stars
Independent Records - "Attic Faith"
New Album, “Attic Faith”, and Irish Tour.
Emmett Tinley releases a new album, Attic Faith, on Independent Records on 15 April 2005. The release coincides with an initial 5 date tour of Ireland.
Recorded for Atlantic Records (Emmett signed to the label after a development deal with Rick Rubin at American Recordings), Attic Faith was produced by Victor Van Vugt (Nick Cave, Beth Orton, PJ Harvey) in New York at the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The story of the album is a long and winding one involving a string of countries, various record labels and a host of musicians. It goes something like this….
Starting at the end of a Prayer Boat tour at the tail end of 1999 in Amsterdam, Attic Faith was written, honed, recorded and mixed over three and a half years in the US, Denmark, Ireland and the UK.
Coming straight out of 12 years as lynch-pin and frontman with The Prayer Boat Emmett was eager to try something different in his life and in his approach to music. After periods of living and writing in Amsterdam, Arhus (Denmark) and LA (interspersed with solo touring in the U.S. and Europe) Emmett settled in Denmark again in 2001 and began working with bassist Martin Spure, drummer Nikolaj Bundvig and pianist Allin Bang, all of whose backgrounds were in jazz. After a few months, the addition of Dutch guitarist Marijn Slager added another facet to the songs.
In the meantime producer Van Vugt had become part of the picture – “One of Victor’s great talents lies in his ability to create and maintain an atmosphere of creativity and positivity,” Emmett muses. “We knew beforehand that there would be a very limited amount of time in which to capture the sound we wanted and to this end Victor was the right man for the job.”
At the beginning of March 2003 recording began in New York. Most of the album was captured in a studio in Manhattan, although some finishing touches were added in Denmark and Dublin and a fourteen-piece string section along with Adam Peters’ Cello and Keyboard touches recorded in London.
Emmett Tinley plays the following Irish dates in April 2005:
Fri 15 Whelan's, Dublin
Sun 17 Spirit Store, Dundalk
Tues 19 The Foyer, Cork
Thurs 21 Dolan's (Upstairs), Limerick
Mon 25 Róisín Dubh, Galway (TBC)
Attic Faith : track by track
Comfort Me: I started writing this song while living in LA. It was very mellow in the beginning, using a tuning borrowed from Joni Mitchell. But it needed to be tense and I only revisited it when I hooked up with the guys in Denmark. It’s a song born of too many distant relationships and the doubt and jealousy that comes with them.
Christmastreet: I began this song while walking home along the canals in Amsterdam just after Christmas. The streets were strewn with discarded Christmas trees, some still decorated. It immediately brought to mind Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a small tree whose only wish is to grow tall enough to be cut down and decorated, but who in the end suffers the same cruel fate. A song about loss of innocence, disillusionment and coming of age.
Closer To Happy: I wrote this song at my parents’ house on my father’s piano. It was a sprawling instrumental piece at first with lyrical snapshots of times and places where I felt certain that I had something to give through my music. Most often those shots are very few on a long roll of uncertainty!
I Want You: This is probably the oldest song on the album and written during a time of rather carefree existence!
Two Years On: A love song which was also begun in LA but whose ‘70’s vibe I wanted to hang on to. I love the drums on this track but most especially the guitar solo!!
Heart Still Breaking: This song was recorded late one night in the studio overlooking Times Square in Manhattan. It is all a single take and during the recording I was very aware of the contrast between the fragility of the track and the chaos and noise of the streets outside. My favourite track on the album.
Killing The One I Love: A song about unwillingness to compromise which, even though the outcome may be sad or even tragic, is not always the wrong course - depending on what you are searching for. Great films don’t require happy endings!
Snow Dome: The idea behind this song was to try to evoke the inner turmoil of two people breaking up. It feels as though your turbulent life is contained in a ‘snow dome’ or ‘snow globe’, barely noticeable to others but the only world you can see. I saw her off at a train station, walking through virgin snow, and returned home through empty streets along the track left by her suitcase.
Come To Life: This is a fairly old song which I was encouraged to record again. The song came about through my tendency to be the last one awake at parties, where I would usually end up looking for Edith Piaf records and wishing I was elsewhere, at that moment and in life in general!
Amsterdam Weeps: Amsterdam has witnessed some great outpourings of grief in recent years. While I was still working on this song, the artist and singer Hermann Brood committed suicide. His passion and urgency was the essence of what I was trying to capture in what had initially been a poem. There are a few threads in this song and more seem to be added as time goes on.
Golden Discs - "Attic Faith" - April 20 2005
Painting Pictures In Sound
Attic Faith", released April 15th on Independent Records is Emmett Tinley’s first offering as a solo artist and it’s a real gem.
Produced by Victor Van Vugt (Nick Cave, Beth Orton, PJ Harvey) in New York at the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Tinley wrote, honed, recorded and mixed the album over three and a half years in the US, Denmark, Ireland and the UK. Devoid of fancy frills, hip catch phrases or any kind of glow in the dark album covering, "Attic Faith" is a tender collection of the purist expression of music, honest as the day is long and deeply personal.
Tinley's song writing has long been admired from all concerned since his days leading The Prayer Boat. After the band's demise Tinley seized the opportunity to fully exploit this new found individuality and began working on "Attic Faith", his glorious debut album. Mysterious and intriguing, this melancholic story reveals a beguiling character, at times distraught by heartbreak, heartfelt wandering and dreamlike reminiscing; Tinley almost therapeutically unveils the torment from within through sublime moments of music. The opening track, ‘Comfort Me’ is an excellent example of this fragile simplicity in sound, beginning softly amidst a swelling atmosphere of emotion and gaining momentum to finish on a flurry of dramatic strings. Although this is the running theme throughout "Attic Faith", Tinley is more than capable of expressing his passion through raw guitar ranting and he does so brilliantly on ‘I Want You’, a demanding track that adds another dimension to his growing tapestry of talent.
With conviction and depth, Emmett Tinley has produced a stunning debut worthy of untold praise, built on the intricacies of the heart this is an album that reveals a mass of texture the deeper you examine it. This must surely be one of the hidden treasures of 2005.
Sunday Tribune - "Attic Faith"
“A fully formed ambitious record filled with beautiful soundscapes, lush strings and vocal harmonies.”
Album Of The Week, Sunday Tribune
Hot Press - "Attic Faith"
“Attic Faith is one of the most stunningly beautiful albums you're likely to hear all year...you find yourself almost moved to tears by the sheer beauty of that voice, singing those words.”
HOT PRESS (9 out of Ten)
Entertainment.ie - CD Reviews - May 16 2005
Emmett Tinley is a survivor. Having navigated the treacherous waters of the music industry in the Prayer Boat for over a decade, you could forgive him for being disillusioned - but instead, the Dubliner has kept the faith and recorded his first solo album. And a very good solo album it is too. Crucially, it pulls off the delicate feat of sounding close enough to his old band to keep those fans, but also different enough to gain him some new ones. Against a low-key backing of muscular guitars and graceful strings, Tinley sings these sweetly wistful songs in an aching falsetto that's often strikingly reminiscent of Jeff Buckley. And while the melodies are not the sort that overwhelm you on a first listen, repeated plays reveals this album to have an emotional depth that most of his contemporaries can only aspire to. Let's just hope he doesn't leave it so long next time.
Andrew Lynch, 4/5
Dublinks.ie - Whelan's, Dublin - March 17 2004
Music Village Emmett Tinley of The Prayer Boat in Whelan's on March 17th.
Emmett Tinley began his musical career with The Prayer Boat in the late '80s. The band hailed from County Wicklow and was started by Emmett on vocals and piano and his brother Patrick on guitar. The two brothers were inspired by the songwriting of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and The Blue Nile. The Prayer Boat took their name from an Indian festival where people send religious offerings in the form of candles and incense on small reed boats and float them down the River Ganges at night.
The Prayer Boat developed their sound around Emmett's brooding and soulful songs and soon found a cult audience in Dublin. The band started sending demos to record companies and was sought after by a number of big labels. The Prayer Boat eventually signed to RCA in 1989, and released their debut album, Oceanic Feeling in 1991. In the mid '90s, the band moved to Glasgow and signed to Almo Sounds. The band released the singles “Dark Green” and “Saved” to great critical acclaim in Ireland. The Prayer Boat followed the success of these singles with their second album, Polichinelle.
Polichinelle was recorded in Dublin and London with Dick Meaney who formerly worked with My Bloody Valentine and Beth Orton. Polichinelle featured such Prayer Boat favourites as “Soon The Stars Will Steer Me”, “In My Arms Again” and “Dead Flowers”. After the recording of the album, the band played at the South by Southwest festival and toured America in 2000.
Emmett Tinley has been very quite over the last few years, living and writing in Amsterdam, Denmark and New York. Last year he performed songs on the “Other Voice: Songs from a Room” series, aired on Network 2. 2004 should prove to be a busy year for Emmett Tinley. He has just completed his first solo album for Atlantic Records/Warners, USA.
The album was recorded in New York and was produced by Victor Van Vugt who formerly worked with P.J. Harvey, Beth Orton and Nick Cave. The as yet untitled album will be released in the US later this year. For this special St Patrick's Festival concert in Whelan's, Emmett will feature songs from Oceanic Feeling, Polichinelle and songs from his new album.
Galway Arts Festival - Emmett Tinley
Masterful tunesmith and former frontman of The Prayer Boat, Emmett Tinley has just finished recording his first solo album for Atlantic Records in New York. The album was produced by Victor Van Vugt who has previously worked with Beth Orton, PJ Harvey and Nick Cave. The album, as yet untitled, is planned for release in America in early September.
Reviews for The Prayer Boat's last album Polichinelle
“Album of the Year ‘Polichinelle’ by The Prayer Boat. Without question, this gorgeous set of intimate, meticulously crafted pop tunes was among the best albums to come across our desk this year." - Billboard Magazine
“Album of the Month…So consistently beautiful it could be displayed in a shop window...Absolutely incandescent” 5/5 .... - Top Magazine
"Polichinelle is sweetly melancholic and rather sublime." - Q Magazine
ALBUM REVIEW - "Polichinelle" March 26 2001
There's something about the European groups that makes them smarter than most of their American counterparts. It's like while Americans learned to bang their heads to Quiet Riot, Europeans were taking tea and reading romantic poetry in order to cry more efficiently. Then again, if one had to pick one influence so strong that not a single reviewer has missed it, it'd be Jeff Buckley, who as you probably know was a fine American kid with a father who made great records. Lots of languid poses for this quartet from Dublin, Ireland's fair city. Album's title track is set first and has more of a pulse to indicate that if this band were ever to have a hit, the record company thinks it's this one. But go deeper and "It Hurts To Lose You" and "Soon the Stars Will Steer Me" indicate these folks will one day record a concept album with very long songs and production techniques we can only imagine. Underneath their mopiness rests real ambition to take the world over as slowly as possible. Prepare accordingly.
Galway Star - May 29th
The Prayer Boat
‘Polichinelle’ (Invisible Records)
The Prayer Boat played Galway recently promoting their new album Polichinelle, so I decided to have a listen to them on CD after being so impressed with their live show.
The Prayer Boat, who hail from Wicklow, are not a band that drown their material out with digital samples, distorted guitars, and shouting lyrics. They’re the complete opposite in fact.
The title track opens the album, and is a beautiful piece of genuinely entertaining music. Right from the start, as with their live gigs, the thing that stands out about the Prayer Boat is Emmett Tinley’s voice: it’s about as powerful as you’re likely to hear from any male artist around. He slides from gentle melodies to high-pitched choruses without any hesitation or difficulty at all, accompanied by mainly acoustic backing with keyboards.
On some of the songs Emmett relinquishes his guitar in favour of a grand piano, which he uses to enhance the atmosphere both his voice and his brother’s classical guitar playing creates. Truly powerful.
While some tracks pick up the pace a little, the majority are thoughtful and introspective. Take ‘Saved’ for example: right from the beginning the whole mood of the song created by all the elements involved is emotional.
An album which would be done justice by listening to it with a bottle of wine or the like. Decent indeed, although not for the fast paced.
OUR RATING: 9 out of 10 - Keith Barrett
Yahoo.com - "Come Sail Away"
One sad truth about the music world: Talented, evocative artists often fall through the cracks. Either they never get a record label to pay attention, or they release an album that doesn't get properly publicized. Prayer Boat frontman Emmett Tinley, who has been making music since 1987, knows the scenario only too well.
In 1991, the Irish group recorded a disc of delicate, emotive pop for RCA in U.K., but sales were meagre, and the album never materialized in America. Three years later, the Prayer Boat recorded two EPs for Almo, and was getting ready to create a full-length, when the label folded.
Many musicians would be so discouraged by such misfortune they'd vacate the music biz entirely, and spend the rest of their lives serving fish & chips and grousing about what could have been. But Tinley persevered. He borrowed money from friends and family and entered a Dublin studio to record Polichinelle, a serene showcase of beauty and vulnerability that's reminiscent of Van Morrison, Radiohead, and Jeff Buckley.
"I love what I'm doing too much to just give up," he says. "I know that life doesn't owe me anything, and I've always known it was going to be hard work to succeed with this kind of music. But this is what I'm into."
Realizing his new batch of powerfully gentle pop songs had universal appeal, Tinley sent copies to every American label he could think of and secured a gig at the South By Southwest music convention in Austin, Texas in 1998. His efforts landed him a deal with Atlantic Records, and now, three years after it was originally recorded, Polichinelle is finally being released in the States.
"The overall theme of the album is one of breaking up in circumstances that you don't have any control over. There's a lot of love, but for various reasons, people can't be together."
"No one would take a chance on the album for the longest time, so I had to kind of push it aside and start working on new material," says Tinley. "I thought it was a great record, but I had to let it go because nobody cared. So it was really wonderful for me to get a call from Atlantic. It was like suddenly hearing from a very dear family member that you thought had passed away."
As wonderfully melancholy as the jangly guitars, sparse piano, and shuffling rhythms are on the title cut, "It Hurts To Lose You," and "Soon The Stars Will Steer Me," it's Tinley's cracked, falsetto vocals and romantically pained lyrics that make Polichinelle truly memorable.
"We did a short tour of Spain where nobody spoke English and nobody understood what I was talking about between songs, but when I sang the songs, people could see and hear--just in the voice and in the music--what the emotion was. That was a very good lesson," Tinley recalls. "[So] I spend a lot of time on lyrics. I try to get right into the core of what I'm trying to write about.
"[Polichinelle] is a sad record, but I would say there's a lot of hope and optimism there as well, which is what keeps it from just being depressing," he continues. "The way I approach songwriting is to write after I've lived with my hurt and your pain. It's not good to write songs while you're going through bad times. The time to write about it is afterwards, when you have a clearer picture of what it was."
Even so, Tinley remains fairly cynical about love. "The overall theme [of Polichinelle] would be one of breaking up in circumstances that you really don't have any control over. There's a lot of love, but for various reasons, people can't be together. I'm really still trying to come to terms with [love], and that gives me material for my songs," he explains. "I think falling in love is an instinct, and it mostly leads to a lot of pain. But everyone has to go through it. The hope that comes out of it is the lessons that you learn from the experience. The goal for me now isn't to be in love and to find true love. Perhaps I don't really believe that it can happen. But that's not bad. You just learn lessons from it."
Hot Press - The Prayer Boat - Polichinelle
Bloodied but unbowed. The Prayer Boat return to the fray with Polichinelle, their second album. It's been eight years since Oceanic Feeling hit the shelves and the four-piece have been through more than their fair share of trials and tribulations since. However, they have grown stronger for it, as evidenced by this superb collection of songs to fall in love with and to.
Polichinelle is an album of rare beauty, a truly wonderful, warm and sincere hoard of gems, performed with a passion and talent which is unique to the Blessington quartet.
Obviously, Emmett Tinley is the focal point. His soaring vocals at times seem to be not of this world, with echoes of the late, lamented Jeff Buckley. Songs like former singles 'Saved', where his voices reaches for the heavens, and the masterful 'Dark Green' need to be lived up for a while for their bruised beauty to shine forth, as Emmet's voice and richly layered music pour over the listener.
Current single, 'Slow Down', is a departure for the band, a super smooth soulful groove that is so laid-back it's in danger of falling over. 'Dead Flowers' is a sumptuous affair, a piano balled par excellence, while 'Balance' is more up-tempo but still wonderfully crafted. 'In My Arms Again' sees the rest of the band stealing the limelight, the music evoking an aching sensuality as it sweeps towards the finale.
The standout, though, is 'It Hurts To Lose You': a contender for the finest and most honest breaking-up song this listener has ever heard. With a melody that effortlessly evokes a sense of melancholy and lyrics that cut right to the heart of the matter, I defy anyone to remain unmoved as Emmet bleeds his soul out: "Though I needed to know why/I tried only to make you laugh... after you left, the sky rained for the first time/and I went to see what I could find to blow my mind."
Instantaneous gratification is not, however, the order of the day. These songs won't necessarily grab you the first time you hear them, but they last all the longer for it. Live with them awhile and it's hard not to fall for their graceful charms.
The Prayer Boat are a very special act and Polichinelle could be their masterpiece. Cherish them.
Recent 'Polichinelle' reviews...
"Album of the Year: 'Polichinelle' by The Prayer Boat. Without question, this gorgeous set of intimate, meticulously crafted pop tunes was among the best albums to come across our desk this year." Billboard Magazine
"Album of the Month .....So consistently beautiful it could be displayed in a shop window .... Absolutely incandescent" 5/5 .... Top Magazine
'It Hurts to lose You' and 'In My Arms' are rich heartbreakers. 4/5 ....
The perfect record for heartbroken insomniacs .... Polichinelle is
sweetly melancholic and rather sublime." 4/5 .... Q Magazine
"This is fine music which surfs along on cool rolling chords .... Quite
stunning." ..... NME
The Prayer Boat
Emmett Tinley’s Poetic Justice
by Steve Baltin
photography Astor Morgan
When you’ve heard hundreds, if not thousands, of records a year, many of which are of sub-par quality, for the better part of a decade, it takes something truly special to wash away the cynicism. Polichinelle, the debut American release from Irish quartet The Prayer Boat, is that record—one so moving it can restore your faith in music. A song cycle of stunning beauty that calls to mind the melancholy longing of Nick Drake, delivered with a heavenly falsetto, it is, quite simply, the most powerful piece of music this year.
And just as the album can conquer the most jaded music fans, the story, one of perseverance, can also tug at the proverbial heartstrings. "I was living in Amsterdam, getting ready to write a new album," explains The Prayer Boat’s singer/songwriter Emmett Tinley. "I figured it was time to move on to a new project when I got a call from Atlantic Records saying they wanted to release the record in the States."
It was a long time coming for the 32-year-old vocalist, who’d been signed to American Recordings in the early part of the 90s, only to have the label never release an album. Though Tinley’s faith and determination was eventually rewarded, the rest of the quartet, which included his brother Patrick, had already moved on by the time Polichinelle was picked up in the U.S. "All the people who played in the record had decided they’d had enough," he says. "I still talk to them and they’re excited about what’s happening, but Patrick, for example, got married, and it’d be hard from them to go on the road."
So when it came time to bring the live show to these shores earlier this year, Tinley took the solo acoustic route. Playing at Largo Pub on a Tuesday night, Tinley had the crowd enraptured to the point of stone silence during the songs. After the show, he said, "It was great. I was nervous, this being the first show, but the crowd was wonderful." Still, he’s looking forward to returning with a new band, which he says he’ll do before the end of the year.
If there’s a recurring theme on Polichinelle, it’s one of lost love. Tinley admits the songs were inspired by a relationship that failed because of distance. Asked if the girl he sings of has heard the songs and commented, he says, "Yes. She’ll call me when she hears one of the songs on the radio just to say, ‘I heard a song on the radio.’"
Hopefully, if there’s any justice in the world, he and his ex-girlfriend will be communicating on a much more frequent basis.
"When the hits of the day have faded and aged poorly, POLICHINELLE will sound fresh and relevant." - Billboard
Already a critical favourite throughout the U.K., the Atlantic release of The Prayer Boat's dramatically confessional and musically stirring POLICHINELLE marks its domestic debut. Defined by its well-crafted interplay of acoustic and electric guitars with sparse use of drums and bass, the album thrives on the evocative vocals of the band's singer and chief songwriter Emmett Tinley. With a voice style that evokes the likes of Thom Yorke, Jeff Buckley, Travis's Fran Healy, and the Waterboys's Mike Scott, Tinley proves perfectly in-the-moment on such tracks as the soaring "Dark Green," complete with rich string and piano accompaniment, the desperately plaintive "Dead Flowers," and the cool, tuneful title track. The band - named after the spiritual festival that draws millions of Indians to the River Ganges, where they float burning incense and candles on small reed boats - has steadfastly cultivated a dedicated following throughout their native Ireland and the whole of the U.K. on the strength of their remarkable live performance skills.
Pulse Magazine - TowerRecords.com
Listening to the stateside debut from Ireland's the Prayer Boat is like walking through a garden after a winter rain, when everything is drenched in a clean and beautiful melancholy.
Led by main songwriter and vocalist Emmett Tinley-who will inevitably draw comparisons to Jeff Buckley for his quavery tenor-the Prayer Boat creates lavish testimonials to lost love and expresses the heartfelt sentiments of those souls who, as the song "It Hurts to Lose You" says, "write mad poetry in rooms with dead roses." At times, the music is so light and fragile it almost floats away, but the majority of the songs here are anchored by wistful, affecting melodies. Delicate piano, soft guitars and an understated rhythm section frame Tinley's mournful lyrics as they transition from introspective verse to swelling chorus, consistently evoking a single sombre mood. Make no mistake: this is unabashedly sensitive, weepy music.
In the current American rock climate the Prayer Boat don't stand a chance, which is a shame, because songs as bleakly beautiful as these deserve to be heard. But perhaps with the modest success of introspective Brit bands Travis and Coldplay, it will be able to sneak in the back door before the next Korn album slams it shut.
Advanced Alternative Media
"Polichinelle", the stateside debut from The Prayer Boat, offers timeless, beautifully crafted songs recorded in Dublin by the chief songwriter and vocalist Emmett Tinley. With a voice style that evokes the likes of Thom Yorke, Jeff Buckley and Travis's Fran Healey, Tinley's contemplative, intimate songs prove musically stirring against a landscape of disposable pop. There are moments on this album where echoes of Morrissey and The Smiths can be heard in The Prayer Boats songs. Already a favourite of the British Press, "Polichinelle" has garnered rave reviews in Melody Maker and NME and cultivated a dedicated following both in their native Ireland and throughout the U.K.
grabbingsand.com - The Prayer Boat 'Polichinelle'
Radiohead paved the way. Travis arrived. Recently came Coldplay. The Prayer Boat is another entry in an encouraging line of UK band's that invoke the introspective soul of the likes of Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley, fallen icons both. Polichinelle is a collection of rainy songs of hope in the face of heartache, grace in the haze of misdirection.
Emmett Tinley's voice alternately floats and soars in a style that brings to mind Tim Booth of James or Paul Young, a kind of honeyed tone. The band builds gorgeous and lush frames out of piano and guitar, patient bass walking with heartbeat drums. Highlights include the pensive verge-of-breakup song, "It Hurts to Lose You" -- the line that catches you is "You write mad poetry / In your room with dead roses." "The Stars Will Steer Me" builds to almost hymn-like group-sing that would not be out of place in a darkened pub. You can see the hope in those imagined eyes.
In short, if Nick Drake moves you, if you miss Jeff Buckley, buy this.
Light some candles and listen in your room. Or find a long road and drive at midnight.
This is the good stuff.
britpopmusic.com - The Prayer Boat
"I bet you've never heard of these guys, because I hadn't until this week, but I'm glad I did. Occasionally in the world of Britpop, albums are released of such incredible beauty that you wonder if you've spent too much time reorganizing your collection. Polichinelle is a collection of silky smooth melodies sunken into moving instrumentation. If you want to believe in music again, pray that you can find The Prayer Boat."
HighBias.com - The Prayer Boat 'Polichinelle'
At first listen, Polichinelle, the latest album from Irish quartet the Prayer Boat, will sound like yet another entry in the "quiet is the new loud"/"sounds like Radiohead" sweepstakes. The band produces long, languorous, medium-tempo and slow songs with a singer who can actually, you know, sing, and wraps them in an almost-stifling blanket of melancholy heartbreak. Any similarity to artists living or dead (in the water) would be a misconception, however. First of all, the Boat's career predates that of Radiohead, Coldplay, etc. by several years, as they released their debut album in 1991. Secondly, unlike many of the over-emoting hordes to whom they'll be inevitably compared, the Boat stay within the boundaries of taste, avoiding the opulence and self-indulgent clutter that other bands often drown in. With strings and horns used sparingly, the basic guitars/bass/drums arrangements exist solely to frame frontman Emmett Tinley's emotion-soaked tenor. His songs sound more folk-based than those of his peers—the band is basically a confessional singer/songwriter backed by his buddies. Finally, Tinley wallows in his romantic misery for a reason, working through the pain of "It Hurts to Lose You" and "Paralysed" in order to come out whole. He'll have none of the gratuitous self-loathing of Thom Yorke and his disciples, contrasting his treatises on suffering with glimmers of hope in "Saved," "In My Arms Again" and the title track. The limitations the band puts on itself only enhance the emotional impact of the songs, and Polichinelle's general austerity makes the Prayer Boat a daisy in a field of thistles.
Billboard Magazine - Polichinelle
Album of the Year. ‘Polichinelle’ by The Prayer Boat. Without question, this gorgeous set of intimate , meticulously crafted pop tunes is among the best albums to come across our desks this year.
The Irish based act which is the brainchild of singer/composer Emmett Tinley who writes simple, spare pop tunes with a melancholy cast. The Prayer Boat is not cut from trendy cloth. Put up against teen acts and pimp-rockers, the band would struggle for sales attention. But there’s something special here. Tinley is a masterful composer with a lilting tenor voice that is reminiscent of Fran Healy of Travis. The song’s are not bombastic. Rather, they’re timeless and are performed in a lean, intimate manner that assures repeat listens. And when the hits of the day have faded and aged poorly “Polichinelle” tunes like a tear-stained acoustic ballad “It Hurts To Lose You” will still sound fresh and relevant.
If you are among the impassioned cult of Anglophiles who dig tirelessly for buried U.K. treasure, then you're probably already a fan of Polichinelle, which was issued by the Irish band via Setanta/Invisible Records last year. The sad truth, though, is that this wonderfully original yet wholly accessible recording may not reach beyond dedicated, musically adventurous spirits. The Prayer Boat is not cut from trendy cloth, and as a result, it's not likely to perform well against today's seemingly endless barrage of teen acts, hip-hoppers, and pimp-rockers. Still, Polichinelle has the sweet pop melodies that should tickle mainstream ears. Front man Emmett Tinley is a masterful tunesmith with a lilting tenor voice warmly reminiscent of Travis' Fran Healy. Soft, piano-driven songs, such as the single-worthy title cut and the delicate "It Hurts To Lose You," are not blatantly commercial. Rather, they are timeless in production, meticulous in construction, and offered in intimate arrangements that reward repeated listens. But in order for that to happen one has to put down the disc that the big pop machine is telling you to buy (or broadcast) and try something new and different. In the case of The Prayer Boat you'll be glad you did.
Reshuffled, repackaged, lovelorn gem from band whose chequered history spans almost a decade and several labels. Originally out last year, like the wondrous Catchers - another Setanta band that blossomed secretly, then withered through lack of attention - The Prayer Boat looked as if they too were destined for unwarranted obscurity. Hence, in part, this reissue. These are gently euphoric songs, dealing in romantic absolutes with a supreme lightness of touch, somewhere between Aztec Camera's High Land, Hard Rain and The Blue Nile (the outro of Balance in very Downtown Lights). But it's Emmett Tinley's beautiful, high, grainy tenor that makes this so special, channelling such pure emotions that you remember why phrases as simple as "won't you stay" have such terrifying power.
Although they first emerged in 1990, The Prayer Boat spent much of the last decade tied up in legal wrangles. Judging by the overriding quality that runs through Polichinelle, they spent this frustrating period honing their craft. A wonderfully assured record, reminiscent of an Irish Blue Nile, every song here is slow, elegiac and possessed of an almost hymn-like quality, while singer Emmett Tinley – who can make his voice jump through hoops the way Jeff Buckley used to – sings of the kind of love that will forever be alien to Mariah Carey. The perfect record for heartbroken insomniacs – Dead Flowers, in particular is full of moonlight majesty – Polichinelle is sweetly melancholic and rather sublime.
4 out of 5 Nick Duerden
Top Magazine (Tower Records)
Album of the Month. Polichinelle, the debut album from unknown Dublin quartet The Prayer Boat. Sounding like an Irish Jeff Buckley, singer Emmett Tinley performs all manner of vocal acrobatics over a soundtrack so consistently beautiful it could be displayed in a shop window. Like much else this month, melancholy forms much of it’s inspiration, but in this instance the result is not miserable at all but absolutely incandescent. ‘Was This Love’ and ‘In My Arms Again’ has all the pronounced yet subtle drama of the final 15 minutes of your favourite film – no small achievement.
Music Week 'Saved'
On their debut EP, Dublin based The Prayer Boat serve up an interesting mix of soaring vocals and tender, delicate music. At times almost serenely quiet, Saved is bolstered by Emmett Tinley’s broad vocal range. Worth keeping an eye on.
The Guardian 'Saved'
Soon-to-be-massive Dublin four-piece, and one of those rare bands who recognise that human relationships are grounded in blistered terror. Well spotted, lads. Molten terror oozes from every pore of this debut EP, which offers up four understated meditations on love and loss, and all those impossible moments in between. The Prayer Boat rarely raise their voices. But don’t be fooled for a minute. There’s fresh blood on that there ceiling which tells it’s own everyday horror yarn. Love every desperate, bitten note of it.
Hot Press - Single Of The Fortnight 'Saved'
Some people have dismissed The Prayer Boat as wannabe Waterboys or MOR bores who missed their bus. These people obviously don’t value the gift of songwriting, because the Blessington four-piece have this talent in abundance, as evidenced by the spine-tingly fragile ‘Saved’. Emmett Tinley voice never ceases to surprise and amaze me, floating and gliding between the notes with eerie abandon. Like last year’s hugely under-rated ‘Dark Green’ a true gem.
In Dublin - 'Saved'
The joys of Emmett Tinley’s voice have been well documented, so it’ll suffice to say that he’s improving on every outing. Saved is a delicate acoustic number that should be properly enjoyed whilst panned out on a deserted beach in Southern Spain watching the setting sun turn the evening to copper. “How can I believe in love without love... There’s no glory in winning/ Here’s my new beginning...” As usual, The Prayer Boat plough their own furrow and forge quietly ahead of the competition.
Hot Press - Single Of The Fortnight 'Dark Green'
Having returned from a three-year sabbatical, Blessington's finest band set sail once again with a ballad of startling beauty. Lush arrangements, complete with string section, provide the perfect spring-board for Emmett Tinley’s voice to soar above the clouds. This one is a real grower, but, given time, it will work it’s charms on you. Can’t wait for the album.
Vanguard Online 'Polichinelle'
The Prayer Boat is derived from the Indian ceremony of plying a boat with candles and incense and sailing it down the river Ganges to symbolically carry hopes, wishes and prayers. So "Polichinelle" is lilting, lovely, spiritual, ethereal and achingly melodic with plinky piano, twinkly guitar and mild, swishy drumming. The style is toned-down, old skool Cranberries with Tim Buckley-esque vocals, the title track soothing with a memorable chorus. It's Emmett Tinley's vocals which elevate these songs from the saccharin tunesmithery - it matters little that he is singing "Baby we're already saved/ We can never be apart" or "There's nothing on the radio" whilst strings are plucked gracefully in the background for his voice raises the songs above the traditional terrain of lachrymose lyricdom - love, loss, despair. 'Dead Flowers' and 'It Hurts to Lose You' are poignant but ever- threatening to turn that little bit too nice and twee. 'Was This Love?', however, is the standout track but even this song is plagued by the nagging feeling that Puressence are already doing this - and with vigour, passion and rawness. "Polichinelle" has a wonderful sound and is obviously well- produced but that seems, paradoxically, it's main flaw; the album is perfectly inoffensive, innocuous and, ultimately, tepid. Worth a listen if your heart's feeling a bit battered - or your ears are through persistent dance/rock/pop listens - but approach with caution if you don't really appreciate your music polished and airbrushed.
Zeitgeist • The Half Moon Theatre • Friday 11th September
The first thing that strikes you on hearing music from The Prayer Boat is a oice that sends a shiver down your spine but a warm glow to your soul. Emmett Tinley is a truly gifted singer with an astonishing vocal range which is immediately apparent. It give the Prayer Boat sound a certain uniqueness complimented with beautifully crafted songs that make 'that' connection with listener - the opportunity to immerse yourself in the music.
'Dark Green' was the first independent single released by the band in late 1995 - a chart hit and subsequently in the critics 'Top 20 Singles of the Year' in the national music paper, Hot Press. This was followed in the summer of 1996 by another single 'Saved' another chart hit which won them the 2TV Coca Cola 'Best Unsigned Irish Band Award' and a nomination for the industry 'IRMA' Awards. In fact both songs were voted 'Single of the Week' in Hot Press.
The band decided to make 1997 an experimental year where they would constantly write, record and play new songs to an ever increasing and loyal audience in Ireland while at the same time make plans for an album that would introduce them to North America. With the same meticulous attention to details as artists like Jeff Buckley and The Blue Nile, 1998 brings us the fruits of their labour in the form of 'Polichinelle'. Recorded in Dublin & London with Dick Meaney (My Bloody Valentine, Beth Orton) the album more than delivers on the promise shown by The Prayer Boat. Songs such as 'Soon The Stars Will Steer Me', 'In My Arms Again' and 'Dead Flowers' are beautifully augmented with the sound of the grand piano and a 12 piece orchestra and reveal the true magic of The Prayer Boat. 'Polichinelle' will delight the current fanbase and help the band carve it's niche in the record collections of true fans of music.
THE PRAYER BOAT play The Half Moon Theatre on Fri 11th September at midnight. Advance tickets from Opera House Box Office. Tel 021 270022
© Aardvark & Zeitgeist 1998
Róisín Dubh, Galway - Live review
THE PRAYER BOAT are an amazing band. I saw them playing in my favourite pub, Róisín Dubh, Galway, about two months ago and I am still in shock. The Prayer Boat are a gracefully talented Irish band with prospective, attitude, cohesiveness and a voice. Their music rubs off the soul on its journey to the heart.
We all miss Jeff Buckley and it was thought that we might never see his likes again. BUT we were wrong. I must admit that I was not a huge fan of Jeff Buckley but I loved his voice. The lead from the Prayer Boat returned from a tremendous encore to sing, what was, the most beautiful version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" that I have ever heard and am probably likely to hear.
If you ever get a chance to hear this band, Winners of the 1995 Coca Cola™ Songwriters Contest for their masterpiece, "SAVED", then go see them. I promise you that if you appreciate good music and indigenous talent you will not be disappointed. There is an inspiring lesson to be learned from a Prayer Boat gig and it is that a group of young Irish guys writing music will conquer the often smeared music industry to produce an album well capable of competing on the international music scene. The album is called "Polichinelle" and can only be bought at the gigs though you might be able to purchase it here at this site soon - well, as soon as I get in touch with them.
I believe that this band has "made it" already but I do not believe that there is any justice in the Music Industry and you might not get to hear them for a while if you live outside Ireland. I want to be in this band!!!
Jackie Hayden - "Go SXSW Young Bands"
Hot Press magazine - April 15 1998
"Others to impress at Maggie Mae's included a Prayer Boat, whose sophisticated pop drew a huge crowd down in the courtyard-style front area despite the chilly evening. They've well and truly buried the Waterboy-isms of yore and are now ready to take on the world with the lessons learned from their unfortunate experiences at the hands of RCA and Almo Records."
"The Prayer Boat to gig in Nancy's..."
Zeitgeist magazine - March 2 1998
One of Irelands most innovative and compelling bands, The Prayer Boat, are to play Nancy's on Saturday 14 March. The Prayer Boat, whose Dark Green E.P. was one of the better Irish releases of recent years, will be selling copies of their eagerly awaited new album 'Polichinelle' at the gig. The album was produced by Dick Meaney whose recent production credits include Beth Orton, Jesus and Mary Chain and Suede.
The gig in Nancy's and one other date in Whelan's are the only appearances by The Prayer Boat before they head in a westerly direction for the South by South West (SXSW) '98 Music Festival in Austin, Texas. Tickets for the gig in Nancy's are £5 and are available from Comet. Its an early gig.....
© Aardvark & Zeitgeist 1997
Invisible Entertainments - March 1998
Invisible Entertainments was formed in 1994 and is a Dublin based music company. The company's main function at present is band management. We currently have 3 bands on the roster- The Devlins and The Prayer Boat who are both from Dublin, Ireland and StarChild who are Cork based. The other functions of invisible are also closely linked with fostering new talent. Firstly we engage in promotional work - mainly bringing new overseas talent to play in Ireland. Secondly Invisible Records is a launching vehicle for new talent where they can release an independent EP/single and gain some experience before the big bad world of major labels. We have enjoyed working with The Devlins for the last couple of years and their success in North America and overseas has been fantastic. We hope The Prayer Boat and StarChild will follow suit and so far the signs are encouraging.
"Dark Green" - THE PRAYER BOAT - SP
(Almo) CD Single
Ireland’s Prayer Boat return with their first release since 1991. The glittering, sinking, delightful keyboards of 'Dark Green' remind me of early Sparks, but the band also heads off in the direction of other Irish artists i.e. the Adventures and Brian Kennedy. Great production, wonderful lyrics and an essence of melancholy, but there’s still an uplifting feeling about them. Yeah, to float along with the Prayer Boat is fine with me. (SP)
Evening Herald - Garter Lane gig
Four Blessington lads, The Prayer Boat would probably be best known as winners of the 2TV Coca-Cola video awards.
The band have spent the last 2 years pursuing their own musical agenda of writing and rehearsing, as well as playing at such prestigious festivals as Glastonbury and the London Fleadh, the latter alongside their mentor Van Morrison, whom they try so hard to emulate.
Saturday night's gig in Garter Lane was of its usual abstract and esoteric quality. Celtic rock, at its best.
The Prayer Boat - Polichinelle
"Not often, but just occasionally, a band arrives refreshingly free of irony with an album's worth of romantic longing and good old-fashioned songwriting. Ireland's The Prayer Boat are one such group of men and this is their oft-delayed debut album. Their closest musical neighbours would have to be The Blue Nile with whom they share that familiar yearning quality, (in fact the middle two tracks, 'Balance' and 'Soon The Stars Will Steer Me' could almost be by that Scottish trio) eschewing modern technology and letting passionate vocals do the talking.
Indeed, singer Emmett Tinley's heart-rending vocals are the most arresting part of 'Polichinelle'; soaring and mourning in equal measure on the title track and 'It Hurts To Lose You'. On 'Paralysed' the group almost forget themselves and rock out and this ability to diversify could serve them well in the future. It is hoped they won't match The Blue Nile's tardiness in recording their next release."
Eclectic Honey - 'Polichinelle' review
"The Prayer Boat are never going to be the type of band who will play sell out shows at the Point or sell out 10,000 capacity tents ala Radiohead. This is not such a bad thing though. For one reason, their music is too precious to work as well on such a large scale. This record is much more suited to the intimate surroundings of a smoky Whelan's on a Friday night.
It twists its way through 11 broken love songs. At times we see Emmett Tinley's ability to carve out a wonderful tune, for instance on the radio-friendly Polichinelle or the grooves of Slow Down, however unfortunately it may not be enough to force a spot on the playlists of day time radio, and perhaps the band will never get the recognition that they deserve for this record.
At times though Tinley manages to create some of the most beautiful love songs imaginable; sad, moving and often dark lyrics combined with sweetly sung vocals on tracks such as Saved create images of the emotion and commitment one would associate with Jeff Buckley. Musically though the band adopt a more stripped down approach, with light spinning acoustic guitars.
The feelings embedded in the album run right through all 11 tracks and It Hurts To Lose you seems to glisten with its melancholy and sadness, and it's centred on Tinley's emotive lyrics, which are steeped in regret.
The sweeping Dark Green and Balance weighing in at just under four minutes also possess the melodic edge perfect for radio, however, unfortunately this album is almost certainly going to go unnoticed by most. This is a beautiful record that seems to take you deeper into Tinley's troubled life and pain each time you listen to it.
sortedMagAZine The Prayer Boat - Polichinelle (Setanta)
"Polichinelle" is 11 songs of impeccably crafted melancholy that wrenches your heart out in sympathy for those about whom Emmett Tinley sings. It features some older material, such as 'Saved', one of the Irish singles of the decade that sadly never reached the size of audience it should have. Amazingly, the other songs live with this masterpiece and don't disappoint in comparison.
'It Hurts to Lose You' is a song of beauty and introspective melancholy, reminiscent of Jeff Buckley's 'Lover, You Should have Come Over' in its effect, and title-track 'Polichinelle' is simply superb. "Polichinelle" took 3 years to make. Hopefully, their next album won't take so long and will see their careers rise to higher waters.
setantarecords.com - The Prayer Boat
'The Prayer Boat' is derived from an Indian festival. Late at night people gather by the banks of the River Ganges and make small boats from the reeds (prayer boats). They laden the boats with burning candles and incense then the boats are cast off to float down the river carrying their hopes, wishes and prayers.
The Prayer Boat are; Emmett Tinley (vocals, guitar, piano & keyboards), Patrick Tinley (electric & acoustic guitar), Tony Byrne (bass guitar) and Tim Houlihan (drums).
Initially what will hit you is the voice. A clear, pure, sound which resonates like a bell. The voice has a current which sweeps you away to an ocean of emotion. Emmett could sing a nursery rhyme and make you cry. "It has always been voices that have moved me most, great singers like Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Tim Buckley, even Frank Sinatra" declares Emmett.
'Polichinelle' is an album of exquisite beauty and powerful sensuality. The Prayer Boat create beautifully crafted songs which provide Emmett's voice with a perfect canvas. The album is compromised of songs written over a period of three years and recorded in Dublin. "There is loss, love and hope in our songs and each is like a letter or a declaration. 'Polichinelle' doesn't pretend to be anything other than the loneliness and the urgency, the despair and the excitement of someone trying to run through life".
Last year the band made their first trip to North America. The reaction to their songs was rapturous and won them some heavy duty fans. Consequently the band were asked to contribute to an album for the prestigious R&B label Ruffhouse, home to The Fugees and Lauren Hill. This record also includes tracks from De La Soul and Annie Lennox and is due for summer release.
Melody Maker - 'Polichinelle' review
As anyone who's ever listened to 'The Evening Session' will tell you, there's a lot of fifth-rate bands that seem to think they can get by on bluster and spunk alone. Sensitive Dubliners The Prayer Boat, by comparison, laugh in the face of such gritty authenticity. Instead, like Aztec Camera or Shack say, they're all classy production over indie parochialism, ideas over influences and great songs over this week's styles. Although, amazingly, they're currently collaborating with drum 'n' bass eggheads 4 Hero too. When The Prayer Boat make the most of Emmett Tinley's voice - the man can make a cat's cradle of your heart strings - it all gels wonderfully. Indeed, the likes of "It Hurts To Lose You" and "In My Arms Again" are rich heartbrakers, reminiscent of a less neurotic Radiohead. But, it's a short walk from the restrained ebb and flow of piano and guitars on the lovely "Was This Love" to "Slow Down", a tune that could have come straight off Simply Red's "Picture Book".
At times, The Prayer Boat are simply too polite for their own good. Which is why, like bestiality and watching Channel 5, "Polichinelle" may well end up the private pleasure of a select hardcore - one that's difficult to explain and easily misunderstood.
Tony Naylor *****