Andy Flannagan is a London-based, Irish singer-songwriter who was previously a hospital doctor but whose proudest moment as an Irishman was captaining England’s Barmy Army during the Ashes in Australia. His campaigning songwriting dragged him into the political arena, so he can often be found annoying MPs around Parliament.
Telling stories in song
He is first and foremost a story-teller, weaving hope and pain into songs that soar with beautiful, poignant melodies that betray his Irish roots. His battered Lowden guitar tells the story of fifteen years of acoustic minstrelling – at times mellow, but at times raging against all the things that break a broken world.
The combination of Flannagan’s rhythmic guitar style and the beautifully languid cello of Lucy Payne draws inevitable comparisons with Damien Rice. A “housewives’ favourite” and a “thinking man’s Ronan Keating” are labels that he can’t fully dodge! Flannagan’s edge certainly isn’t in his image, but in his poetic lyrics, which unashamedly peel back layers to leave the listener’s emotions very near the surface. He has been compared to Roddy Frame, Jackson Browne and “The Script” (if they were just one person with an acoustic guitar). He is less ginger than Ed Sheeran but certainly more Irish.
A new album
His new album “Drowning in the Shallow” features Andy’s trademark organic sound taken to another level by Grammy-award winning producer Alan Branch (Jeff Beck, Cat Stevens, Sinead O’Connor). There is a genuine feast of musicality with warm strings from Abbey Road, and virtuoso performances from Lucy Payne (cello) – (Kate Rusby, Sting, Britten Sinfonia), Matt Hay (oud, violin) – (The Who, Robbie Williams, Babybird, Kylie Minogue), and Yves Fernandez (bass) – (Jurojin)
Passion for justice
There is a passion for global justice in Andy’s songs that is reflected in their earthy lyrical content. Many of them have been used by NGOs such as Tearfund, Christian Aid, Stop the Traffik, Stop Climate Chaos, and Make Poverty History. Through his work with these agencies Andy has had the privilege of travelling to some of the toughest parts of the world. Having visited Sweatshops in Bangladesh, he and his songs were part of the ‘Lift the Label’ campaign that forced retailers to sign up to the Ethical Trading Initiative. Three songs on his new album were inspired by trips to India, Egypt and Uganda respectively. He fervently believes that the lobbying of the twenty-first century will be lobbying of the heart as much as lobbying of the mind, and that music can do a thousand things that worlds alone can not.
From MPs to soldiers to slum dwellers
His audiences have ranged from MPs at Westminster to Young Offenders’ institutions, from ski-ers in the Alps, to 20,000 at Greenbelt festival, from the ‘Big Breakfast’ to Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the Labour Party Conference, from American air force bases in Germany, to the slums of Bangkok. The venues he has played have ranged from the majesty of Union Chapel or Liverpool Cathedral, to the dusty floors of South London pubs.
His songs have been used on national BBC TV and radio, and by independent UK TV broadcasters. His second album, ‘SON’ made a massive impact. Cross Rhythms called it ‘A creative triumph’ and YOUTHWORK magazine raved, ‘this is a worthy addition to the very limited canon of ‘great’ modern Christian albums, and more importantly, to the thinking person’s CD collection.’ Flannagan doesn’t wear his faith on his album sleeve, but he is honest enough to not leave it in his back pocket either.
He has made regular appearances on radio 2 and radio 5live, alongside various BBC regional stations. He has appeared on ‘The Big Breakfast’ and 4thought on Channel 4. Over the last 9 years his music has also been a staple on Christian radio stations UCB, Cross Rhythms and Premier.
He has regularly played to some huge festival audiences. For example 20,000 at the Greenbelt Festival, 8,000 at Spring Harvest and 10,000 at New Wine. There are also a long list of cathedral and town hall venues he has played.
The invisible tour
As well as mainstream venues, Andy is embarking with his friend and author Patrick Regan (Fighting Chance, No ceiling to hope) on an “invisible tour” this autumn. They are taking music and stories of hope to folks who would not normally get to hear them – Homeless shelters, Young Offenders’ Institutions, Prisons, Hospitals and special needs centres.
Imagine a glinting-eyed Irishman sitting in the corner of a pub, strumming his acoustic tunes. Melodic, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, and entertaining.