- 19 Aug 21
With a new album under her belt, the Irish singer-songwriter is set to tour Germany, Ireland, and the UK beginning in September.
Megan O'Neill is learning to get comfortable with a world full of chaos.
The Irish singer-songwriter released her sophomore album Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty this past March, showcasing the range of her talent in a surprise departure from her classic folk-Americana sound. Influenced by artists like Fleetwood Mac, Kacey Musgraves, and Taylor Swift, the record reflects her changing tastes and growth as an artist.
"I suppose it's been a transition for me out of the folky-Americana world, and into more pop and rock elements – even though the stories are still the central theme throughout the record," she said recently on a Zoom call with Hot Press. "That's been really well-received, which is great because that's a bit scary when you're going a new direction."
Since the release of her debut album Ghost of You in 2018, O'Neill has been hard at work creating her new music and co-writing with artists like Orla Gartland, Ben Earle, and Jake Morrell – until her plans were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I finished recording that album at the end of 2019, and originally the plan was to put it out in 2020," she explained. "Then COVID pushed it back, thinking 'COVID'll only be around for three months' – and then all of a sudden it's 18."
The songs from Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty, however, have been in the works for much longer than that. Most of the songs were written in 2017 and 2018, but 'Underrated,' the album's fifth track, was written before O'Neill had even started releasing music.
"The great thing about songs is that they don't have an expiry date," she said. "['Underrated'] just didn't fit anywhere, but with this record it really fit... I suppose I do that every time. I'm back making a record at the moment, and what I do is I listen to songs from years ago that didn't make the previous record, and there's hundreds of those songs that are sitting in the 'song graveyard.'"
While some of the songs may be from the same creative period of Ghost of You, what sets the albums apart from one another was their production process. Alongside producers Joe and Dave Dunwell of the Dunwells, O'Neill recorded Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty over the span of 12 months – a much longer process than the three-week period for her debut album. She explained that the extra time allowed the songs to have some breathing room.
"It gave us a lot of time creatively to think about what we were doing and to make adjustments as we want, rather than just try to get everything done because you're in this time period where you have to get it done by D-Day," she said.
Though the title of the record had been chosen before the pandemic, O'Neill recognises that it seems even more relevant these days.
"It has been a period for us to have to get used to [uncertainty], and I suppose understanding that we all have to let go of control because inevitably, we don't have it," she said. "We'll never have it. And I think that's been, for me personally, something I've really needed to learn."
The titular reference to uncertainty, however, was intended to encompass O'Neill's songs revolving around love, heartbreak, and moving on. From upbeat songs like 'Fire With Fire' to slower songs like 'Strangers Before We Met,' the album is full of talent and emotion.
Two songs on the album in particular stand out as an expression of a different kind of love. 'Ireland' and 'London City' are both love songs to places O'Neill has spent a considerable amount of time in. She spent seven years abroad between Nashville and London, learning the songwriting practices of the vastly different musical hubs.
"They were both amazing experiences and unique in their own right, but coming back to Ireland has been, I have to say, the most creative I've ever been, and I've really enjoyed this version of myself as an artist and getting to be creative at home," she admitted.
'Ireland' was written in 2017, when she'd been away from her home for five or six years, and 'London City' was written around the same time, a few months before she left the English capital.
"I think when I left Ireland at 21 I was thinking I couldn't wait to get out of the small town, and everybody knows everybody, and the weather's terrible, and all the things I really wanted to escape from – as you do in your late teens and early 20s," said O'Neill. "It was only the longer that I was away from Ireland that I then realized, 'Oh yeah, I miss all of those things. I miss when it rains loads, and then it's actually really green because you've had both.' All the silly things that I wouldn't have noticed as much before. Every time I came home from London, I would just be like, 'Oh my God, I miss it here so much.'"
Now, after being in Ireland for months, O'Neill is ready to set off on her tour for Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty. She is set to tour Germany in September, followed by Ireland and the UK in October and November. She will perform at Whelan's in Dublin on October 22.
"These songs for me have been in this recorded version for so long, and I haven't been able to reinvent them in a live setting, so I'm really excited to get out and give these songs a new life in front of an audience, as well as that we're going to be throwing in some new songs that are going to be coming out next year."
O'Neill will be joined by Mark Caplice, a close friend and musical collaborator that worked with her on 'Time In a Bottle,' a cover of the 1973 Jim Croce tune that was featured in the first episode of Netflix's Firefly Lane.
Aside from tour, what else is next for O'Neill? She has confirmed that new, different music is on the way. Five new songs have already been recorded, and another four or five will be recorded this winter.
"Next year will be a pretty giant leap, which is all I can say so far..."
Listen to Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty below, and get tickets for her upcoming tour here: