- 20 Jul 21
'Magic Rising', which lands this Thursday (July 22nd), marks the title track from the forthcoming album by Willowjack, set to land on August 13th.
Unconventional Irish rock outfit Willowjack have shared the new video for their latest track, 'Magic Rising', featuring plenty of carnivalesque green screen moments.
Composed of vocalist and songwriter Donal Byrne alongside enigmatic violinist Colin Moore, Willowjack had a previous incarnation in 2014 when Byrne teamed up with songwriter/composer Hugh Doolan to release the single 'Sad and Blue'. Donal's main collaborator is now Moore, and what a pair they make.
"'Magic Rising' is a song about reawakening the magic that is inside us all, a celebration of our intrinsic connection to the earth, the forests, the seas, the stars, the mystic. It's about watching my daughter grow, pure of heart and bursting for exploration and knowledge," Donal tells Hot Press.
"It traces a direct line to our ancestors, all the way back to the primitive: magic, fire, earth. It's about being amazed, and our yearning for love. It's tinged with sadness too, that innocence will inevitably be lost and that with every breath we are all coming closer to the end."
Donal Byrne began writing songs in his teens and has been writing and performing full time ever since, starting out as as founder member of Catch the Monkey and Crow Jane in the '90s (opening for Bjork, and Primal Scream, no less) before setting out on the path of a solo artist.
He then travelled around Europe, living and playing music in Lanzarote and Portugal before settling in Germany for eight years. There he honed his craft as a solo artist, performing live four or five times a week on the Irish and German pub circuit as well as festivals - all the time writing new material.
"Germany really became a home from home for me, I love the dark intimacy of the music, the ghosts of Brecht and Brel, Schumann and Weill. Having developed a loyal fanbase there, we go back regularly to tour and play festivals. It has become a tradition after the gigs to bring the instruments back to the all-night bars and just play - they aren't really used to the idea of live sessions in the Irish sense, and the fiddle in particular blows them away!"
Colin "Colly" Moore was born in the Dublin village of Howth. Having been exposed to his mother's love of classical music, and the local pipe band's rehearsals behind his house on summer evenings and friends' introductions to David Bowie, The Doors and Led Zeppelin; he cast off to sea, working on a fishing boat out of Galway. It was there he discovered folk and traditional music. After buying his first fiddle, the endless hours playing out on the high seas has resulted in his unique style of performing.
Colly was also a member of Clan Eadair, who collaborated with Phillip Lynott to produce the single 'A Tribute to Sandy Denny', culminating in an appearance on The Late Late Show. Finding a new career ashore enabled him to form the trad/rock outfit Bogotheloughs, gigging and touring with them for ten years before joining forces with Donal Byrne to become Willowjack.
In its present form Willowjack began when Donal Byrne and Colin Moore met at a lighthouse in the west of Ireland a couple of years ago.
"It was a bit strange really - I was down to stay with a friend who owned this lighthouse to jam and write some songs. There was a full on storm blowing and there was Colly outside, cool as you like playing the fiddle into the gale. Surreal!" Donal laughs.
They quickly forged a common bond musically and ideologically, and decided to form a band to take Donal's songs and reconstruct them acoustically with Colin weaving his magic on fiddle.
Inspired by the likes of Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, The Waterboys, Bowie, Prince, The Doors, The Stooges, Roxy Music and Declan O'Rourke; Willowjack embrace the theatrical and the primal. Coming from a trad background, Colly also embraces world music and the devil's violinist himself: Niccolò Paganini.
With a powerful emphasis on the lyrical, rawk romanticism, brooding musical theatre - almost Brecht or Brel - the songs have developed a kind of otherworldly darkness. Adding organ and eastern-influenced riffs evokes the mystical and the decadent - with recurring marine imagery.
"I write the songs alone, exploring my mind for whatever it is I'm trying to capture," Donal adds. "Sometimes the songs come ready written, and sometimes it's a bit like flinging bottles at the moon...the acoustic guitar is like a sketchpad, its earthy tone allows you to build a picture and imagine the musical possibilities before they exist."
"We work up the songs as a two-piece until the song feels like a living, breathing thing. Colly comes in with these magical melodies lines that work perfectly. We record them live in our home studio, add whatever other instruments needed, then when we're happy we ship them off to producer Alwyn Walker for mixing."
The video was shot during lockdown, with the duo now readying themselves for the release of their new album on August 13th.
"We plan to release another single with a video, possibly two, then we are back to the studio - we are already working on recording the next album, with 12 songs completed and almost ready for the mixing stage. We hope to get back to live performance as soon as possible - we have pencilled in a mini tour of Germany at the end of summer, but it's hard to plan anything in Ireland at the moment."
Check out the video for 'Magic Rising' below: