- 20 Oct 23
Rewatch Krea’s performance on the Hot Press Y&E Series below - supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media…
Last night’s Y&E series performance was handed over to Dublin singer-songwriter, Krea. The moniker for Karen Cowley, Krea began releasing solo music last year after taking a break from Bray indie outfit, Wyvern Lingo. Awarded the Music Bursary by the Arts Council and a resident at CCI in Paris, Krea has since released her debut EP The Callows.
Playing songs off an album full of lush and poetic vocals, soulful piano and bright harp instrumentals, Krea’s performance on last night’s Y&E Series was nothing short of a much-needed, breathtaking escape.
Upon tuning in, she quickly introduced herself, “I am Krea and I’m going to be serenading you all for the next 25 minutes.” The first song of the night was, fittingly, her first single release as a solo artist, ‘September Sun.’
Taking to the piano with melancholy, delicate keys, Krea’s vocals were deep and soulful as ever. The ballad’s deeply personal poetics were laid bare with only the piano to back her as she began with a breathy, fragile voice that quickly travelled to a powerful, rich belt.
“I haven’t done this since Covid, so…little bit of PTSD, not gonna lie,” she admits. Nonetheless, her nerves failed to show as she dove into ‘Last Day of the Year,’ a track about feeling homesick and second-guessing the decision to leave Ireland.
Krea seemed to reach out to her audience as she crooned, “Will I make it home by the last day of the year? Can I let this go?” Her vocals began to climb from the intro, dipping low in the pre-chorus before soaring into a delicate, heady tone. With a nostalgic mood to her simple, piano-led performance, the soul and blues textures emerged through the range of her vocal talent.
Riffing beautifully during the instrumental outro, Krea ended the tune by telling listeners, “To anyone who’s feeling that, you’re not alone.”
Next up was her popular cover of Madonna’s ‘Don’t Tell Me,’ brightening the mood with a jumpy piano beat. Her vocals found a rough edge on the song, breaking up the setlist nicely. It was the kind of performance that makes you want to snap and sway along instinctually – which Krea did, using her fingers to snap the beat as she harmonised on the bridge.
Noticing a request from her audience for an Irish traditional tune, Krea sang a brief line of ‘She Moved Through the Fair’ before compromising with another Irish tune instead.
She sang a few verses acapella-style of the folk song ‘Pleasant and Delightful,’ a tune she said she first learned from her aunt and uncle. A heavenly melodic variation to her vocals breathed life and emotional depth to the Irish song of farewell.
“It’s night to get an old Irish folk request,” she smiled, recalling that during her gigs she’ll often sing the tune and have the audience join in on the refrain. “If there’s a family member present, they’ll sing the harmonies.”
Switching things up, she grabbed her harp — a gift, she shared, during the pandemic — which she has been learning for the past two years. “Takes a long time to learn the harp, so don’t judge me,” Krea joked.
After quickly teasing a forthcoming Dublin gig in January (keep your eyes peeled!), Krea introduced her next song, ‘Grief’ as she tuned her harp. “It’s about watching people you love grieve, trying to figure out what to do and how best to be there for them,” she shared of the song, off her debut EP The Callows.
The harp strings invited a bright element to her deep, heartfelt vocals and deeply personal lyrics. Singing a narrative of death and the journey that follows, Krea’s lyrics and vocals were sonically vulnerable as the harp backed her up with its hopeful notes.
Addressing her departure as a solo artist, Krea confirmed that she is still in Wyvern Lingo, and the band is simply taking a little break. “I started releasing solo music last year under the name Krea because it’s a bad time to be Karen on the internet,” she half-joked. “That’s a fact. And also, everyone spells my last name wrong…so I wanted a fresh start.”
She kept hold of her harp, but not before revealing what she’s been up to recently: in the studio, working on a new EP. For now, she shared another something new: a cover of Alt-J’s ‘Every Other Freckle.’
Her cover of the darkly romantic indie-pop tune took on a different form with the spare harp instrumentation, showcasing her vocals at their soulful depth. “I’m hoping to release a new EP early next year,” she went on to say — if that’s the case, here’s hoping this dazzling cover makes it on that tracklist.
Speaking of her newly released music video for ‘The Callows,’ premiered by Hot Press on Thursday, Krea recalled the setting for the shoot and the scenery which inspired her EP title. She detailed her cherished childhood memories in the callows, a wetland on the banks of the River Shannon.
“I wrote this song when I was feeling kinda depressed, a bit down and a bit lost and like I didn’t have any real sense of identity,” she explained.
A spiralling piano intro led into the album title track, as Krea’s vocals hummed their way into the melody. With gentle keys and a lush vocal harmony, the song took on a suspenseful tone evocative of the dense, green landscape that inspired her to write it.
Krea ended on a note of resolution and closure, singing, “The swallow will return at peace with it all, released from it all, peace with it all, released from it all.”
After thanking her audience and everyone involved in the performance, Krea closed out a 25-minute set gone too soon. “This was really, really heartwarming,” Krea beamed, “thank you.”
Watch Krea’s full Y&E Series performance below:
Catch the following acts taking over the Hot Press Instagram in the coming days…
Friday 20th: Bernard M
Marked by his standout passion for creating genre-bending music and for bringing that sound to life onstage, the 23-year-old Crumlin native and multi-instrumental singer-songwriter/producer brings it all to the table. His shows are something of a spiritual experience, his magnetising energy and boundary-defying sonics captivating anyone lucky enough to be present. His new single ‘Young,’ a story of young love, is an earworm of an electric pop anthem.
Saturday 21st: Daragh Daly
Following his first encounter with his granddad’s guitar, the now-21-year-old Co. Meath artist has established himself as a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who isn’t afraid to break beyond the confines of genre. As well as being crowned a regional winner in the A New Local Hero talent earlier this year, he's garnered impressive radio and streaming attention.
Sunday 22nd: Melina Malone
Following collaborations with Mango x Mathman, Zaska, Irish Women In Harmony, Booka Brass and more, the Irish-Greek artist has earned her reputation as one of the country's most thrilling forces in R&B. She lands on the Y&E Series fresh from the release of her long-awaited debut album, Aphrodite, which put a fascinatingly fresh spin on the role of women in Greek mythology.
Monday 23rd: Kayleigh Noble
Dublin’s ‘pop princess’ will grace the Y&E series as she prepares to release her debut album, Just a Girl. With a recently sold-out headline show at Dublin’s Grand Social and her ever-growing streaming audience, Noble’s future is luminous. The pop star’s debut – worked on almost exclusively by women – will narrate a layered story of dysfunctional love, marked by her vocal depth and lyrical prowess.