“Daydreamer” by Owen Denvir – Available: 2nd October 2015.
It was back in February when I first became aware of fresh faced Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician Owen Denvir, supporting Jarrod Dickenson at popular live music venue ‘Sneaky Petes’,Edinburgh. As I heard his voice I whispered into Cats ear “just trust me on this one” and practically flung her through the crowds to snap a couple of photos. It was the combination of the emotion and depth in Owen Denvirs voice with a subtle confidence that first captured my attention.
Photo by Cat
Self-penned debut EP ‘Daydreamer’ by Owen Denvir consists of four beautifully crafted songs, wonderfully arranged and layered throughout with his very recognisable voice. The inclusion of Hannah McPhillimy on “Staring At The Sun” is pure genius, totally unexpected and I enjoyed the surprise. “Lonely” melodically remembers a soul-mate and prompts old friends to pop into my head, its a clever little number. Forth song “The Coast Of Spain” is one I’ve heard Owen perform live, the emotional good-bye is a strong and courageous one and its for the best.
Outstanding title track “Daydreamer” completely encapsulates Owen Denvirs brilliance, its funny, dreamy and completely self aware. Musically thrilling, full of wonderful buildups and smashes keeping it exciting and dramatic. Its the lyrics and Owens vocals in “Daydreamer” however that I find most compelling. Dispelling any myths regarding being that of a ‘Daydreamer’ being a waste of time, Owen Denvir astutely clarifies just how much devotion and uninterrupted focus it involves. This is an EP which I would highly recommend and I look forward to its release on the 2nd October 2015.
In 2009, Norwegian group a-ha announced to the world that they intended to split up after the tour of their outstanding ninth album “Foot of the Mountain”. Wefast forward to 2015 and see the very welcome return of the legendary band with new album “Cast In Steel“, one of their strongest albums to date.
One of the strengths of “Cast in Steel” is creative input by the entire band. All three members of a-ha contributed to the writing and production of various songs. The album doesn’t feel fragmented by the various collaborations and from start to finish it has that unmistakable a-ha feel of quality.
The new album see a-ha reunited on three songs with their early producer Alan Tarney. However this album is not an attempt to recapture the past and I would argue that songs produced by Tarney are some of the lesser remarkable moments on the album. I’m not for a moment suggesting that they are bad songs but I did have a slight disappointment that the material did not have the same impact as those on the classic “Scoundrel Days” album.
a-ha have had at many times expressed their admiration for ‘Dépêche Mode’ including covering “A Question of Lust” on Radio 2 and I have always felt that both bands shared the same musical DNA. Two of the highlights on the new album, “Giving up the Ghost” and “Mythomania” are further evidence of these shared musical influences. These two songs written by Magne Furuholmen and co-produced by Erik Ljunggren find a-ha gifting the listener with their most vibrant and interesting material since “Minor Earth, Major Sky” in 2000.
“Cast in Steel” is also a showcase for the vocal talents of Morten Harket. He is easily one of the most criminally underrated vocalists in the history of modern music. The emotional depth and quality of his vocal on “Cast in Steel” is sheer perfection. The first single “Under the Make Up” is a fine example of the conviction and passion that he brings to every single song that he does.
So 30 years since their big break through with “Take on Me” and their debut “Hunting High and Low”,a-ha have returned strongly. I personally think it would be very sad if this were to be their last work together because they continue to consistently deliver outstanding and coherent albums with every new release.
For all the latest news, tour information, music, videos, merchandise and links to social media, visit a-ha.com.
Sea Legs –Ciaran Lavery & Ryan Vail – Released 17th April 2015.
Click image to stream on Spotify – Photo by Joe
Ciaran Lavery and Ryan Vail’s union may seem an unlikely match. I’ve known of Ciaran’s music for a while, with Ryan being a more recent and welcome discovery. After friends alerted me to “Sea Legs”, I entered the exciting world of ‘Pledge Music’ and even “virtually” attended one of the launches via a live stream. Nanno & Nurse Ratchet experienced the other spectacular Northern Ireland Launch aboard the‘SS Nomadic Belfast’.
Ideally listened to in its entirety, whether in a mellow setting or played aloud through headphones while out and about, this album has an overwhelming sense of escapism which is magical. Without question “Sea Legs” is one of the most significant additions to my collection in years. The elements of spoken word, water, song and music all intertwined make this a “must have” for any collector.