Monthly Archives: April 2015

Mandy Bingham – Vol. 1 – EP

Click image to listen on Spotify

Click image to listen on Spotify

Mandy Bingham is the eldest daughter of renowned Irish singer-songwriter David McWilliams and mother Gil was also a folk singer. Mandy is a well travelled woman with a unique ability to describe her observations and thoughts through song in a remarkable style that conjures up loads of imagery and scenarios as you listen. It’s really only in the past couple of years however that Mandy has been songwriting, this lead from open mic evenings and small intimate venues to larger gigs and festivals. Last year, Mandy recorded “Not Your Business” as part of a compilation album “Velvet Revolution”, this was soon picked up on and getting air-play from various broadcasters including BBC Radio Ulster’s Ralph McLean and indeed myself. While this was all happening, a strong and steadily growing fan base organically emerged. The next step for Mandy Bingham “Vol.1”

 

Mandy Bingham Vol.1 photo by Cat

Mandy Bingham Vol.1
photo by Cat

Beginning with “Turn Out The Light”, a particularly dramatic song, I get a strange sense of struggle as I listen to this one, it sounds like a stalemate situation and I love the way the ending can be what ever you choose.

“Calm Before The Storm” is where Vol.1 delves into a more eerie sound. There is a certain seriousness about this song that haunts me somewhat, I hear pain through the lyrics, a feeling that emotions are being held in suspension, the whole time knowing that the inevitable is imminent. The tension continues to build until Mandy completely opens her voice and freely releases all of that contained emotion, singing louder than any voice in her head ever could.

“Oblivion” is a powerful song, it describes perfectly to me how sometimes that feeling of having no cares, concerns or worries is so appealing, just a bit of “Head Peace” or “Escapism” even just for a while. The musical arrangement and Mandy’s delivery on this one keeps it much more upbeat, freely opening her voice again and with some amazing guitar and drums this song has a powerful energy.

Don’t become complacent, track 4 “If This Is Love” is possibly one of the saddest and weirdly conflicting romantic songs I have ever heard. This is a double edged tale with simple words and gentle music.  The magic happens between the lines as you comprehend what she’s saying. Warning! this song may cause the eyes to water.

Away with the sad faces and dry your eyes, “The Chicken Song” brings nothing but warm and happy thoughts. Its a picturesque little number with a country rhythm that describes beautifully that perfect blueprint for a lifestyle and existence that would tick all the boxes, now all she has to do is share the vision and hope he doesn’t run a mile.

“If This Is Love” Remix by Ryan Vail retains the simplicity of the original composition. Mandy’s voice is perfectly timed, angelically positioned with piano keys, the continuous tease from the ‘catching’ throughout and the genius ‘voice dipping’ technique used by Ryan magically makes this sound like a duet. Ryan Vail is one of the most talented guys in the industry and a master in his field, I was delighted when I discovered he was involved in this remix.

Mandy Bingham Vol.1 Photo by Cat

Mandy Bingham Vol.1
Photo by Cat

Vol.1 by Mandy Bingham isn’t background music, its full of conversations and reflections, the lyrics are clever and lead you into various situations without dictating your own individual interpretation. Mandy was performing at this years ‘Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival’ where I first heard some of these songs live and have been waiting eagerly ever since. You can read more from that evening here. Vol.1 is a musical novel and I hope the first of many.

Click image to listen on Bandcamp

Click image to listen on Bandcamp

For more information about Mandy Bingham, upcoming gigs, BandcampSpotify, iTunes, Amazon, videos, SoundCloud and links to her social media visit her website.

Joe

 

Gareth Dunlop – Eastside Sessions

Gareth Dunlop at the Eastside Sessions, Sunday 12th April, The Park Avenue Hotel, Belfast. This was a free event brought about by the East Side Arts, Belfast.

Gareth Dunlop Photo by Nurse Ratched

Gareth Dunlop
Photo by Nurse Ratched

We arrived at the event unwisely thinking “ah sure there will be plenty of seats, its Sunday”. Nope we were very wrong the place was full. We should have known judging by Gareth Dunlop’s local fan base which includes myself. I first saw Gareth play a small gig a few years ago in ‘Holywood Yacht Club’. Loved him from his first song. I was then lucky enough to see him play several times at our local open mic night, which I might add I have sung at a few times myself but certainly not at the standard of Gareth Dunlop. Every time he turned up “the craic was 90″.

Gareth Dunlop Photo by Nurse Ratched

Gareth Dunlop
Photo by Nurse Ratched

Gareth is now 28 but has been playing and performing from a young age. In 2011 he was awarded the ‘Belfast Nashville Young Songwriter of the Year’. Since then he has been a busy bee writing and performing. He has opened for Jeff Beck, Jools Holland, Nanci Griffith, Angus & Julia Stone, Paul Carrack, The Steeldrivers, Imelda May and more. Gareth’s songs have also been featured in numerous hit television series including “Cougar Town,” “One Tree Hill,” “Private Practice,” “Army Wives,“Life Unexpected,” and more.

Unfortunately due to our late arrival our seat wasn’t too good but a seat we had nonetheless which was luckier than others. Gareth expressed how honoured he was to be asked to perform at this gig and got stuck straight in. He is a professional and so you just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. After his first song and the rapturous applause he received, he expressed how 5 years previous he had played cover songs in this exact venue and no one clapped so the night was getting off to a fine start.

Gareth Dunlop Photo by Nurse Ratched

Gareth Dunlop
Photo by Nurse Ratched

The next song was “Find Your Way Back Home” accompanied by the talented John McCullough on keyboard. They have been playing together for nearly a decade. I have seen John play along side many other artists and he is something to behold and it is quite exciting to watch him at work. One of his next songs was written while travelling with Angus and Julia Stone. Its about missing home ‘Just Don’t Feel Like Home’. Just before a short break himself and John did a cover of ‘Walking in Memphis’ which went down a storm as usual.

After the break and I’m sure a couple of Guinness’s later he came back with one of my favourites ‘Trick of the Moonlight’ which was featured in the series ‘House’. This was then followed by ‘Fools Desire’.

Gareth Dunlop Photo by Nurse Ratched

Gareth Dunlop
Photo by Nurse Ratched

A few songs prior to this I was joined at my table by the infamous Terri Hooley. Terri likes to banter and in between each of Gareth’s songs he kept whispering lots of very entertaining stories to us and so I was unable to hear much of Gareth’s banter. Nonetheless it was a great gig and Gareth and John finished off with a cover of Paul Simon s “you can call me Al”.

Love love love him and good luck to him for the future certainly looks bright.

For further information, upcoming gigs, music store, videos and social media links, visit Gareth Dunlop’s website.

Nanno