Universal Music have kindly sent us an advance copy of the Time Of My Life album and we're excited to share our review with you...
First of all, before you listen to this, chuck out your expectations. Just expect it to be good because trust me, it is. But for now, forget about the cover albums and the NYC Girl type of pop songs. This album was created by a whole new artist and it has singer-songwriter stamped all over it. I'll be honest, I always knew he was capable of doing this and I have wanted him to make an album like this for over a decade, but it just didn't seem to be happening. I never thought it would. Don't get me wrong, I still love most of his previous albums but I'd swap this one for the other nine instantly.
With the exception of Falling Slowly - a souvenir of Ronan's lead role performance in Once the Musical a year ago - the songs on this album are all new, and all connected, telling a story of who the real Ronan is today. Unlike anything before, this release is his life and his soul wrapped into songs - half of them written by himself together with fellow Once cast member Daniel Healy. The lyrics are deeper than before, some are hauntingly open (check out Keep It Simple and Don't Think I Remember). He's made an incredible progression as an artist and songwriter. Raw, emotional vocals affirm the message behind this album: Ronan is truly happy. Much of that is all thanks to his wife, Storm, whom most of the songs are about and who has done backing vocals on two of them. Make up your own mind, but I think they sound beautiful together.
Tracks that stand out? That's where it gets tricky. I usually have an obvious favourite or two on every album, but on here there's about seven or eight songs that might be just that little bit better than the rest. Different songs have popped up in my head all the time over the past week rather than one particular track sticking out. There's the beautiful, uplifting Breathe (which will be the second single) and Landslide, the powerful Time Of My Life and As Long As We're In Love, the deeply reflective Don't Think I Remember (possibly the best vocals on the album!), the hauntingly beautiful love song that is In Your Arms, the cheerful Shine Like Gold. And you just know straight away that all of these songs are excellent tour material, which we will get to enjoy later this year.
In a nutshell? This album is amazing and it gets better the more you listen to it. You will be positively shocked. Ronan explains in the heartfelt, beautifully written sleeve notes that this is "just the first chapter". We've had "new chapters" in the past but nothing much ever really changed - not that things were all that bad, but you know that feeling when you know someone has so much more potential and doesn't seem to be making full use of it? Everything is changing now and my little heart is bursting with pride.