THE LAST 12 months have been significant for Irish singer-songwriters Lisa O'Neill and Junior Brother, and both will share the stage of the Róisín Dubh as part of the Galway International Arts Festival.
O'Neill, originally from Cavan, has been hailed by Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners as "a true artist - totally uncompromising with an almost naive attitude to what she does, which makes for some of the purest music I've heard.”
Heard A Long Gone Song, released last October, was O'Neill's fourth album and her first River Lea Records - a division of the prestigious Rough Trade label. Recorded with producer Dave Odlum and musicians Cormac Begley, Christophe Capewell, Libby McCrohan, and Lankum's Radie Peat, it fused traditional songs and original compositions. The Guardian called it "uncompromising, stunning, soul-shaking stuff", while Goldenplec declared it "a stunning album that firmly appoints O’Neill as a worthy custodian of tradition expressed with renewed vigour and relevance".
Junior Brother - Kerry singer-songwriter Ronan Kealy, his stage name comes from a character in the Jacobean play The Revenger's Tragedy - also released an album, his debut, with Pull The Right Rope. The album came out in May via Galway based label, Strange Brew. Its nine songs were written when the artist was aged between 20 and 25, and was recorded between winter 2017 and autumn 2018, in Ailfionn Studios, Drumcondra, under the hand of Chris Barry.
"The tales told here are full of wide-eyed wonders and keen observations...Junior Brother’s songs are the real deal," The Irish Times said of the album, while in its review, The Last Mixed Tape declared, "Pull The Right Rope is a shining example of how long-standing genres like trad and folk can be given new life. A true musical self-portrait."
Lisa O'Neill and Junior Brother play the Róísín Dubh on Wednesday July 24 at 8pm. For tickets see www.giaf.ie