singer songwriter

All posts tagged singer songwriter

Let Bad In is the second album from Northern Irish singer songwriter Ciaran Lavery.  I first heard his voice a year ago and described it then as “beguiling, giving an emotional honesty to his music”.   That was in reaction to just one song and having now listened to an entire ten track album, I still stand by that initial assessment.  Let Bad In showcases a seriously good songwriter.

I recently spoke to Lavery about this new album, released on 27 May and one thing came across clearly: his passion for songwriting, especially lyrics.  Lavery says that as a listener, lyrics are the things that he really listens out for and I think that this shows in his song writing.  A lot of the songs relate to days gone by and the past which helps the album flow effortlessly from beginning to end, a balanced listen which is a deliberate approach; Lavery preferring albums that hang together well with a general theme rather than just a collection of songs that bear no relation to each other.

I asked Lavery how he approached song writing and interestingly, he says that he’s recently changed from sitting down to write a song to starting off “with a feeling, an inspiration” and now can write without having an instrument to hand.  He goes on to say that “it feels as if there aren’t as many rules of writing…it’s a nice way to write, I can bank songs for a later date when they’ll fit in with the current theme”.  Previously, any songs that didn’t fit with everything else being written were thrown away although Lavery was quick to laugh and dismiss out of hand my assertion that he could have thrown away any number of masterpieces.

Other than Return to Form, above, one of my favourite tracks on Let Bad In is Wilder which turns out to be Lavery’s favourite too, if only because he “enjoys the musicians that play on it”!  Wilder showcases some great lyrics which isn’t surprising as Lavery is a self confessed “lyric freak, it’s the first thing to catch my ear as a listener”.  The line that caught my ear is:

remembering days when I was young enough to fail without them sticking in my throat

And another line that really spoke to me is from Tell Them All:

live a life where you can live it / give a hand where you can give it / never raise your glass to someone’s sorrow

Talking to Lavery, it became clear that he suffers from an almost crippling level of self doubt about his music.  He rarely listens to his own music, other than during the editing and production process and finds it difficult to accept praise (a family trait, he says).  He needn’t worry,  his song writing really captures an emotional response in the listener which is complemented by his voice; soft when needed, raw when the song asks for it (this is is especially true of the title track, Let Bad In, where Lavery’s almost raw vocals act as a faultless companion for the lyrics

I’m learning each and every day not to let bad in

There is nothing bad about this album; on the contrary, it’s full of great songs that show off the very talented Ciaran Lavery.

Let Bad In is released on 27 May on Believe Recordings and is available here:

ciaran lavery

Before then, you can catch Lavery’s live shows by clicking here (a mini European tour finishes in London next week) where you should be in for a real treat as he’s been playing tracks from the album in live shows since 2015.

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Here on thoughtsofjustafan I like to bring you good music and, when I can, good new music.  I recently heard a new singer songwriter, Vanessa Forero and really enjoyed her debut EP, From the Uproar.  When listening to new singers, the temptation is to compare with someone you already know and a common comparison for female singer songwriters with a penchant for stripped back songs is Suzanne Vega.  However, having listened a few times, I decided that that is just a lazy comparison to make; Vanessa Forero’s music doesn’t really remind me of anyone at all.  From the five songs on the EP, I would say she has a pretty unique sound right now, mainly from the strong Latin sounds created with authentic Colombian instruments.

Although From the Uproar is Forero’s debut EP, she is far from a music newbie, having been a prolific film and TV composer as well as playing keyboards in a band (Starling).  So how does a self styled ‘music monkey’ came up with such a distinctive sound as heard on this EP?  I recently interviewed Forero and asked how the idea came about and the turning point came when she entered a Beth Orton competition aimed at female composers.  She was accepted and only then discovered that the competition was for female singer songwriters and that, horror of horrors for an out and out composer, that performing her own songs in front of others was part of the package.  Luckily, Forero quickly found that singing her own songs was right for her and as the saying goes, never looked back.  That was just last year and Forero has been using the time since then to make this EP, using the hundreds of songs she had written at the end of each film  / TV project and adding the Colombian sound.  Describing the process of creating her own sound after years of creating music to very tight briefs for other people, Forero says “doing imitations of different genres – brilliant training ground though it was – created a need for me to find my own personal musical voice.  The whole process has been so beneficial, I feel that I found out who I really am.”  Hearing that from a lot of people might sound cheesy but I was struck by Forero’s sincerity; she’s clearly having the time of her life making her own music and it’s obviously not an option not to carry on.  Forero’s response to whether or not there will be an album was “if I don’t, I feel I might die!”

All the songs were written before the idea of an EP was even thought of, with the exception of the fifth and final track, Anhela and they all sound as if the singer is breaking free of constraint, in this case, from the constraints of writing music for others.  The strongest song for me is Same Boat in which Forero explores the idea of things happening at the right time and how sometimes, things almost happen but don’t and maybe that’s a good thing.

For me, the sign of a good song is when you find yourself singing along (or attempting to!) the first time you hear it and this was the song that did just that for me on the EP. The strong Latin sound was created using authentic instruments played by Forero herself and a couple of musicians from Leeds which forms the perfect backdrop to Forero’s heritage, seeing as she is a Yorkshire lass and her mother originally hails from Colombia (that’s a whole other story and can be found on vanessaforero.com).

The longer the interview went on, I increasingly felt inspired by Forero’s attitude to her music.  She is a long standing musician and composer but at the same time is also at the very beginnings of a brand new direction in her career. Having spent so much time writing music with a very defnite and defined purpose in mind,  writing almost “without a purpose” made her look at everything in a new light: She says “we put ourselves in boxes but as humans we can do anything we want. Break your own box down and shock people.”  See what I mean? Inspiring.

From the Uproar by Vanessa Forero was released on 28 March on Magpie Records and is available here:

vanessa forero uproar

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On thoughtsofjustafan, we love to share good music, and this post is about a singer songwriter I think you’ll love, Maria Silker.    Liverpool based, Maria’s sound is strongly influenced by that city, as well as by Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Bob Dylan.

Maria started singing and playing guitar through her local church and then went onto play at folk venues across the North West, sharing the stage with The Dubliners, Planxty, Christie Moore and The Spinners.  Real life intervened for a while and it was whilst working in London that Maria started to seriously pursue music again.  She began writing her own material, influenced by Allan Taylor, Clive Gregson and Mike Silver before being encouraged to record her debut album, Tearing at the Surface (click here to see the album in iTunes).  The experience afforded Maria the chance to work with producer Gareth Young (Sugar Babes, Dannii Minogue) and leading pedal steel guitarist, Melvin Duffy.

The result is a smooth blend of country, folk and jazz:

I’m proud to say that Maria is a friend of mine – click here to find out more.

 

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