AS WITH so many others, it started with Nirvana. In 1993, the young Mick Flannery heard Kurt Cobain's haunting, semi-acoustic rendition of David Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold The World'. His relationship to music was never the same again.
It started the Corkonian on a path that would lead him to America where he “wandered around for a time”, eventually entering the US Songwriting Competition in Nashville, Tennessee, winning two top awards for his compositions. There came a stint as a stonemason - a craft he retains a strong affinity for - but the lure of music was too much and the arrival of a major new Irish songwriting talent was announced by the albums Evening Train (2007 ) and White Lies (2008 ).
With 2012’s critically acclaimed, No 1 album Red to Blue and last year's By The Rule, Flannery consolidated that position, confirming view of The Irish Times: "a singing and songwriting force to be reckoned with"; and Urban Folk, New York: "Mick is a songwriter of the first order...His voice is pained, gravelly, and powerful...it carries through and stops you in your tracks.”
Speaking about songwriting, Flannery says, "it’s never a chore. The creation is the nicest part, it’s something you always have and you can use it to work through stuff that’s in your head. You have to take it seriously if it’s going to be any good."
Flannery is often reluctant to talk about himself in interviews, preferring to let his lyrics speak for him instead, and there is an unexpected influence on his lyric writing: Eminem.
“There’s things he does with words no-one else does”, Flannery says. “He rhymes two words with one word, the two syllables of one word with match two separate words, internal rhyming, skip rhymes. It takes me a while to pare my lyrics down and get the lyrics correct and make everything as concise as possible. You have to think about the songs again and again and again. You have to have a foothold in the song.”
Singer-songwriter Mick Flannery plays the Róisín Dubh on Saturday July 25 at 8pm and Sunday July 26 at 9pm as part of the Galway International Arts Festival. Tickets are available through www.giaf.ie and www.roisindubh.net