- 18 Nov 23
Dublin-based singer-songwriter Ylroy brought their enrapturing anti-folk tunes to life last night, kicking off the final weekend of the Y&E Series – supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
Irish-Filipino singer-songwriter Ylroy joined the final weekend of this Hot Press Y&E Series last night, bringing their enchanting songs and welcoming demeanour to a virtual audience with support from their classical music friends.
Ylroy’s impressive lyricism navigates queer experience, with stripped-back acoustic instrumentation and soft, ethereal vocals, dually channelling the genuine sincerity of folk and the idiosyncratic playfulness of anti-folk. Assuming an intimate and confessional songwriting style, Ylroy's sonic artistry is a unique tapestry of lived experience and inwardly-reflective introspection, charting their experiences as a queer person and the complexities of romantic relationships.
With the release of their debut EP Three Flowers For My Beloved in October of this year, Ylroy is already establishing themselves as an emerging voice in Dublin's indie music scene, having played sold-out shows in Dublin venues including Bellobar and Workman’s.
Kicking off their performance, they strummed lightly as the audience showed up in the comments, embracing listeners with their immediate warmth. Without introducing the title of the track, Ylroy dove right into a playful opening melody, showcasing their trademark stripped-back acoustic arrangements.
They revealed the track is unreleased, and only finished last week — the only person who had heard it before last night was Ylroy’s mother.
Tentatively titled ‘Let Hoplites March to Death,’ Ylroy joked, “When I showed my friend the title, they said, ‘Do you think you’re Lana Del Rey?’…I don’t.”
True – Ylroy is far from comparisons, as their own unique brand of symphonic anti-folk is proof of. And, furthermore, their next tune on the setlist, ‘Thanks For The Weekend.’
The song was introspective and charming, full of realism coloured in by ethereal sonics, with their friends backing them on cello, bass, piano and xylophone. “It’s not a ghost,” Ylroy joked, promising to introduce their band at the end of the session. “I won’t reveal them, they’re a mystery until the very end.”
A downtempo, sombre guitar rhythm drove the tune, with cello notes adding a darker atmosphere to the track that’s all about short-term infatuation and loosely tied connections.
Ylroy has a way of being heartbreakingly casual with their out-there lyrics, which hone in on specific moments and memories that simultaneously exist within the shared human experience.
They moved into some songs off their debut EP, the dazzling Three Flowers For My Beloved. First up was their introductory track ’Stephens Day,’ which saw the artist rely heavily on their classical roots.
The tune opened up with enchanting piano, before evoking a warm, Christmassy feeling with Ylroy’s bittersweet acoustics. The cello added an ethereal, floating feeling to the performance, while the singer’s vocals emanated a gut-wrenching, authentic quality.
Drawing upon the experience of Winter in Ireland, Ylroy utilised their honest lyricism to contrast the cold of the weather with the familiar warmth of the holiday season, and the comforts that can lead one to seek.
Their next tune, ‘Spring,’ Ylroy described as inspired by Ashley Eriksson’s ‘Island Song’ from the Nickelodeon cartoon Adventure Time. The song merged youthful instruments like the glockenspiel and tambourine with reflective, mature lyrics, describing the complexities of queer relationships and the feeling of being stuck in love with a person who cannot meet you where you are.
“Why is it weird when I said I loved you?” Ylroy sang during the first line of the track, in a beautiful tenor that instantly struck a chord. Elongated strings evoked a sense of deep longing, as the singer tells a story of mourning and love lost with their searingly honest, non-metaphorical lyrics.
“Behind me are a lovely group of musicians whom I love dearly and am so thankful for,” Ylroy took a moment to share, adding that their solo debut album was a result of two takes in the studio alongside the band, made up of classical musicians in their university course.
Their final track brought the performance full-circle, as it does on the record. An anthem of self-acceptance, ‘Don’t Let It Show’ was both the climax and conclusion of Ylroy’s enchanting set.
The bouncy acoustic melody, with beautiful cello strings and xylophone sparkles threaded through, brings to light the experience of transitioning cultures from The Philippines to Ireland and discovering one’s identity.
They stood up to show off and introduce the band behind them, before returning to complete the hook of the tune “One more time!” — a truly magical, uplifting ending.
Watch Ylroy’s full Y&E Series performance below, and check out their new EP Three Flowers For My Beloved, out everywhere now.
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- 06 Dec 23