- 11 Jun 21
Brothers Jono and Kieran O'Connell came together during lockdown to create their own style of music.
The O’Connell Brothers are Jon and Kieran O’Connell, from Miltown Malbay, County Clare. The pair have been playing together for the past five years with acclaimed folk group The Fiddle Case, but came to the realisation that they needed an outlet for their songs that didn’t quite fit that mould. Hence, O’Connell Brothers came into being. Their journey to this moment has been unpredictable. Having been raised steeped in folk music - Clare being a renowned centre for Irish traditional culture - the brothers never quite stayed in that lane.
Jon has worked with lots of different acts as musician and producer, including The Walls, Luka Bloom and Ultan Conlon; Kieran played the bars and venues of Melbourne before returning to Ireland as a singer with a bunch of original songs already written.
As members of The Fiddle Case, they have recorded and gigged all over the world. The acoustic folk written in their DNA anchors the O’Connell Brothers’ sound. It draws inspiration from the synth-trad experimentation of The Bothy Band and early Bill Whelan productions, as well as the acoustic/synth couplings found on '80s era Springsteen and Paul Brady.
During 2020, the brothers found themselves in a bubble (literally and figuratively), and so, hidden away in a little shed beside a smoky old stove they dived in; writing, jamming, recording, searching for and eventually refining a new sound - the charlatans and troubadours of the parlours and lounges of west Clare armed with amplifiers and synthesisers.
The O’Connell Brothers recently released 'Songbird', their first single. Described as ‘a song of solidarity for all the musicians, performers and troubadours in the world who were forced to readjust and adapt to a whole new way of life', the track is a song of acknowledgment, optimism, and hope for a brighter future.
As one source close to the brothers told Hot Press, the brothers have been moved by the response to the song, which has music lovers around the world asking for more.
“We have been writing and demoing songs since last March, but 'Songbird' suddenly arrived at the end of a long rehearsal last November,” says Jono, who is enjoying the new musical wind at their backs.
“Kieran played a couple of verses he had been working on, and we quickly decided that this was the song we wanted to release first. We set about recording the song in our shed studio, as well as at Malbay Studios, and worked remotely with the incredible maestro Dave Curtis (Ultan Conlon, AJ Croce). Finally, we were thrilled to have the great Brian Masterson come on board to mix and master the track.”
The response in recent weeks has seen the song grow in popularity and reach. After an initial play on Clare FM, RTÉ Radio 1 shows Late Date and Simply Folk took the song under their wings, followed by John Creedon among others. Fans include folk legend Luka Bloom and a growing legion of fans are already keen to hear more from the brothers.
The O'Connell Brothers are presently mixing their next single, ‘Down On The Quays’, describing it as "a guns blazing folk-rocker; a reflection on those times when your darker angels come calling, and where they may try to lead you". On the live front they say they will continue to perform live on their Facebook page once a month, and are excited to be organising some real live shows for the near future.
Listen to the O'Connell Brothers' first single 'Songbird' below: