Whoosh. Christmas went quickly and is over for another year. I am happy to slip back into a semblance of a routine now and concentrate on listening to all the new CDs I have received and purchased with vouchers recently. Last week’s end of year Top Five may have been constructed a little too hastily as a trio of long players, all released within the last twelve months, is keeping me entertained and contented. I have mentioned Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan’s Ballad of Broken Seas already but I have also been listening to Cat Power’s The Greatest and Fionn Regan’s The End of History. The Greatest – not a Greatest Hits package, heaven forbid - is a classy piece of work, fragile yet striking, mainly down-tempo songs delivered in a country style with the crystal-clear and delicate voice of chanteuse Chan Marshall to the fore. It’s lovely. I have also grown fond of Fionn Regan’s album. A and I saw this young Irish troubadour supporting Midlake back in July and since then his debut album has been released to plenty of acclaim. And rightly so. The End of History is a charming, clever young scamp, packed with appealing melody and razor-sharp, world-weary and, at times, confessional lyricism. A few reviews make inevitable Nick Drake comparisons and Regan’s dextrous fingering of his guitar strings does suggest similarities but I sense more of a Ryan Adams influence in several of the numbers. I recommend.