- 16 Mar 22
All of the tracks on the Irish Songbook: Vol 1 album were taken from the selection of more than 50 songs which will be highlighted – and have their stories told – in a new virtual exhibition.
Some of Ireland's most promising emerging talents have been brought together to celebrate the country's rich musical heritage on Irish Songbook: Vol.1 this St. Patrick's Day.
The album features ten songs which form part of a wider selection, set to be celebrated in a special online exhibition on the Great Irish Songbook, curated by Hot Press editor Niall Stokes along with Gary Sheehan of the National Concert Hall. While focussing on some of the biggest songs in the Irish popular repertoire, the project also heralds the strength and diversity of the nation’s current music scene. The fresh tracks have been recreated in innovative and often surprising style, with Faction Records acting as A&R consultants on the project.
“It is fascinating to hear the way in which these young Irish artists have re-interpreted what are genuine Irish classics,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said. “Everyone will have their own personal favourites, but it is the originality and the freshness of the arrangements and the performances throughout which is really impressive. We’re all familiar to one degree or another with the songs, so I think people will have a lot of fun deciding which new versions to fall in love with. There’s certainly great material here for Irish radio to get behind.”
One of the collection’s most striking inventions is MuRli’s take on Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’. The Limerick rapper and producer reimagines the 1976 hit as a soulful, alt-pop song, in the process switching its boisterous bravado for a mood of meditative melancholy.
That atmosphere is also beautifully captured by Maria Kelly, whose version of ‘Linger’ pays a poignant tribute to The Cranberries’ much-missed front-woman and songwriter Dolores O'Riordan – whose extraordinary career was recently celebrated in Why Can't We? – The Story of The Cranberries and the Band's Iconic Frontwoman Dolores O'Riordan, published by Hot Press Books and curated by Stuart Clark.
Meanwhile, Daithí's modernist electronica again shines, as he interprets Clannad’s extraordinary 1983 hit, ‘Harry’s Game’ in an experimental instrumental style.
The collection takes us back to the turn of the 20th century as MayKay of Fight Like Apes and Le Galaxie – in collaboration with by the celebrated fiddler and founder of The Gloaming, Martin Hayes – imbues ‘My Lagan Love’ with elegant romanticism. The duo join a long heritage of artists who have performed the song, including The Chieftains, Hozier and The Corrs.
The organic blend of the old and the new is seen throughout – including on Sven’s vocodered treatment of Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’, Lauren Ann’s gendered twist on The Undertones’ punk classic ‘Teenage Kicks’, and Dea Matrona's superb version Van Morrison’s ‘Gloria’ – first revealed as part of the Hot Press-driven celebration of Van's work, in Rave On, Van Morrison.
Gary Sheehan, Head of Programme Planning at the National Concert Hall and the curator of the music programme for Ireland at Expo, commented, “We are delighted to work with some really exciting artists to create these new interpretations of great Irish songs. It sees songs that are much loved both at home and internationally viewed afresh with some startling insights."
Irish Songbook: Vol.1 was commissioned by NCH as part of Ireland’s presence at Expo 2020 Dubai, which focuses upon the importance of putting creativity at the centre of human experience. Ireland’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai remains open until the event concludes on March 31st. The programme highlights include a St. Patrick’s Day parade, a special gala concert curated by Martin Hayes and Gary Sheehan, performances from the Expo Players, and the launch of the Irish Songbook: Vol. 1 album.
Music is an essential element of the nation’s far-reaching influence, with this impact celebrated in the Irish Songbook exhibition.
Irish Songbook: Vol. 1 is available to pre-save here.