screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Tag: Ireland

Introducing… An Intimate Evening With Michael Shaw

The storyline — mysterious, surprising and ultimately tragic. The music — haunting and familiar, though at the same time, unexpected, like the subject matter. What begins as a classic couple’s argument in bed turns into something more ominous and forbidden. This stunning miniature film noir for “Now You Know” is from Michael Shaw’s new project, An Intimate Evening with Michael Shaw. It was the final cut on his debut solo album, released in May, called This Is It. This breathtaking psychedelic journey strongly conjures Roger Waters and Pink Floyd with its soaring lead guitar, phase-shifting effects and dramatic vocals.

The album overall is bright and melodic, bursting with intimacy and warmth that celebrates the proud pop songwriting tradition of ’60s and ’70s artists like the Beatles, Queen, Badfinger, Electric Light Orchestra and the Beach Boys, a melding of influences from his Northern Ireland roots and time spent living in London and the San Francisco area. For as upbeat as it sounds musically, a closer listen to the lyrics uncovers darker emotions. In fact, Shaw wrote the album while isolated in a rented cottage in his birthplace of Antrim on the north coast of Ireland, where, as he said, he “surrendered himself to the solitude.” Back in California, he recorded his new music with bassist Colin Schlitt and drummer Kenneth Hard, two frequent collaborators, and guitarist Eli Nelson. It was a particularly difficult time for him, as his mother was diagnosed with cancer, and the album was recorded a week after she died.

Naming his band An Intimate Evening with Michael Shaw certainly puts the pressure on to deliver something heartfelt, honest and true, which he delivers on 100%. As Shaw himself said, “I felt that I needed to kind of address some of the stuff that was going on around me and happening to me at that time, otherwise it would kind of fall short. I would just let stuff pour out of me. I think solitude enables that, if you’re just hanging out with yourself and you don’t have any distraction.

You allow yourself…you just become more free when you’re able to do that when nobody’s there listening to you. I think it just blends into more pure lyrical content.”

Artist Links: web | facebook | twitter | bandcamp | instagram | youtube | interview

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Introducing… Hozier

This isn’t an introduction of someone completely unknown, as Andrew Hozier-Byrne (better known as Hozier) is currently ripping up the U.S. radio and Billboard charts with his song, “Take Me To Church,” is poised to release his debut album and is about to embark on a mostly sold out U.S. tour. I was captivated by the power and beauty of that song, pulled up the lyrics and was complelete knocked out, but what really did it for me, and for a lot of other people, was watching the deeply moving video.

The story follows two young lovers and the resulting hostility and violence of neighbors turned into rabid mongrels, fueled by fear and intolerance. It is a poignant indictment of the homophobia rampant in Russia right now, and of the government’s unwillingness to do anything about it. It is also something of an indictment of the intolerance, hypocrisy and religious dogma of the Catholic church, which unfortunately is worldwide.

Hozier is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Amazingly, he’s just 24 years old, born on St. Patrick’s day in 1990, in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland. I say “amazingly” because of the depth, poetry and wisdom of his lyrics. He has the kind of stark clarity that comes with many years of living, the little bugger. An old soul, to be sure.

He was born to a blues musician and was exposed at an early age to the music of Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, and then to Delta blues, Motown, gospel and jazz. Other influences include Leonard Cohen (no question), community choral singing, and author James Joyce, especially “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.” He spent a little time at Trinity College in Dublin, studying music, until he left to record demos and pursue a music career full time. He sang and toured with the Irish choral group Anúna, performed with the Dublin group Nova Collective and released his solo EP, Take Me To Church, in 2013. His second EP, From Eden, was released this past spring. His debut album is due out in October, and can be pre-ordered here.

My lover’s got humor
She’s the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody’s disapproval

I should’ve worshiped her sooner
If the Heavens ever did speak
She’s the last true mouth piece

Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week
We were born sick, you heard them say it
My church offers no absolution
She tells me ‘worship in the bedroom’
The only heaven I’ll be sent to

Is when I’m alone with you
I was born sick, but I love it
Command me to be well

Amen (x3)

Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good god, let me give you my life
– Take Me To Church

If you’d like to see Hozier, you may be out of luck this time around, as nearly everything is already sold out. But here are the East Coast dates anyway, and if you’re feeling especially lucky, go to his web site and enter to win tickets. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye and ear out for his debut album.

East Coast Shows
10/31 Paradise Rock Club, Boston
11/1 Trocadero Theatre, Philadelphia
11/4 9:30 Club, Washington D.C.
11/5 & 11/6 Irving Plaza, NYC
* all shows sold out *

web | facebook | twitter | youtube | instagram | bandcamp | Irish Times interview | interview | wiki

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