Andy White Boy 40

Somehow during his almost 20 year career, Belfast’s Andy White has somehow managed to find a comfortable niche which has allowed him to release 11 albums, yet he still hasn’t really been blessed with much in the way of commercial success. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t garnered any accolades, as he has beaten both Bono and Van Morrison to be named Ireland’s Top Songwriter and has received more good reviews than bad. In the past year, he’s taken advantage of his international reputation — writing with Canada’s Stephen Fearing and recently moving to Australia, where his buddies Neil and Tim Finn live and he received inspiration to write his hit song about Aussie runner Cathy Freeman. Now he’s capped it all off with the release of his best album in years, Boy 40. While the songs aren’t particularly upbeat or sunny, there’s an underlying optimism that makes the whole album shine with a happy glow, something of a rare commodity these days. White plays practically all the instruments on the record and his knack for writing a good tune helps to make this a record which will appeal to all the fans of his pals. (True North)