Iarla O’Lionáird plays a three date Irish tour next week, backed by his new band which includes Stephen Shannon of Strands, Donnacha Hoey of Spook of the Thirteenth Lock and Max Greenwood.
2011 has already been a productive year for the singer. May saw the release of Donnacha Dennehy’s Grá agus Bás (Nonesuch Records) in which Iarla features as a soloist on the title piece. He has also just completed a the debut tour including a sell-out show at The National Concert Hall, of a new band The Gloaming with Dennis Cahill, Dennis Hayes, Tom Bartlett and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. Now he returns to his solo work…
For his third solo album – Foxlight – the acclaimed singer Iarla Ó Lionáird delivers an impassioned and sublime set of personal songs, combining the twin urges to write more new material and yet also work with an intriquing set of collaborators. The experience and varying tonality of each contribution here makes this a record that shimmers with versatility. Whilst rooted in certain traditions, it is also unclassifiable and refuses to be located in one genre or another. It’s one of Ó Lionáird’s most organic, naturalistic records to date. Instrumentation and layers are embedded in each song, but ultimately it’s about Iarla’s exquisite, sonically unique voice.
From his early days as a sean-nós singer, to The Gloaming and Afro Celt Sound System, his collaborative and solo work, Ó Lionáird has always ploughed his own artistic furrow. His work is very connected to the totems of traditional Irish music – sean-nós, the Irish language, traditional instrumentation – but various projects have broadened his experience and understanding in the multi-faceted nature of music. Nurtured on childhood songs, the Celtic rhythms that underpin the Afro-Celt sound and collaborations with composers Gavin Bryars and Donnacha Dennehy, there is much more to Ó Lionáird’s exceptional gift than merely being a sean-nós singer. “People ascribe a lot of things to me musically – Cúil Aodha, Sean-nós, traditional… all of those sacred cows. They’re certainly there, but I’ve always been a journeyman. With this record, I wanted to do things I hadn’t done before and that’s also because my way of listening has changed.”
Iarla’s new solo album ‘Foxlight’ is due for release on September 26th. Here’s a sampler: