- 05 Nov 18
Lisa O’Neill’s newest album, Heard A Long Gone Song, cements her place as one of Ireland’s greatest contemporary folk singers. The album is the first ever release on Rough Trade’s newest label River Lea, and comes at a time whenever folk music is getting renewed national attention – thanks to the inaugural RTE Folk Awards. But whatever else goes on around her, the Cavan songstress remains a collector, and disseminator, of important stories worth telling.
There’s a sense of déjà vu when I start interviewing Lisa O’Neill. I’ve already mulled over the questions and sent them to her a few days before, at her request. It’s the first time as a journalist that I’ve ever done this, but seems appropriate for a variety of reasons; Lisa and I have never met in person, she had a busy few years which she’d like to think about, and – perhaps most importantly – she doesn’t particularly feel comfortable during interview situations. Nevertheless, she’s forthcoming when we find ourselves seated in the Library Bar in Dublin city centre.
Heard A Long Gone Song, Lisa’s fourth album, was co-produced with Dave Odlum in Blackbox Studios in France, and finds O’Neill working with musicians such as Cormac Begley, Christophe Capewell, Libby McCrohan and Radie Peat across nine songs encompassing traditional ballads and original compositions. The press release describes the album as “a radiant document of an artist who feels more sure of her place in the world than ever before, while still retaining a sense of frailty”. In less flowery language, they’re songs that Lisa “collected” over the years and grew decidedly fond of singing.
Lisa’s previous album, Potholes In The Sky, was released in 2016 on Plateau Records. But thanks to the help of fellow folk upstarts, Lankum, Lisa found herself in contact with the prestigious Rough Trade Records, who were intrigued by her music.