Track Of The Day: Clara Byrne – ‘Conflict Bound’

A poignant reflection on the pressures and contradictions we encounter living under capitalism, Irish songwriter Clara Byrne has shared her debut single ‘Conflict Bound’. Lifted from her upcoming debut album Handstitched, Byrne finds refuge from these overwhelming thoughts via her atmospheric alt-folk guitar sounds and patient vocal delivery.

“In a world filled with juxtaposed opinions and clashing ideals, it is getting progressively harder to know where to stand,” Byrne explains about her new track. “It can be nearly impossible not to get bogged down in fighting the opposition or slaving towards winning small mercies. It all seems so vast, so utterly impossible to grasp. But there are rare occasions when a clearing appears through the density. These moments when everything is laid out in its most digestible form, are worth waiting for.”

Through her sincere lyrics and rich vocals, Byrne navigates through “sheltered point(s) of view” and appeals to her listeners, asking them not to turn away from “systemic flaws”, but to unite together to dismantle them. The track is also accompanied by a video created by Rachel Noble, formed of scenes from global protests, deprived buildings and busy urban landscapes.

Listen to ‘Conflict Bound’ below.

 

Follow Clara Byrne on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Ailsa Tully – ‘Drive’

A tranquil alt-folk tune that gently encourages listeners to escape the greyness of their day-to-day reality, Welsh songwriter Ailsa Tully has shared her latest single ‘Drive’. Released via Dalliance Recordings who Tully has recently signed to, the track is a breezy reflection on what it means to break away from the daily stresses of life and exist in a peaceful moment of escapism.

“’Drive’ was inspired by a time when my brain was festering in a boring job,” Tully explains. Through her soft vocals and melodic guitar sounds, she eases the relatable tensions that come with wasting your precious time in an unfulfilling career, finding that “silver lining” in the greyest of situations.

A former guest on our Hoxton Radio show, Tully is deeply influenced by her Welsh heritage. A member of her church choir, she recalls walking across the Welsh countryside and hearing voices reverberate beyond the church walls, which has influenced her own sound to include elements of choral music, folk music and field recordings. ‘Drive’ is the first taste of Tully’s new music, and she’s set to release more singles in 2021.

Listen to ‘Drive’ below.

Follow Ailsa Tully on bandcamp, Spotify, Facebook & Instagram for more updates.

Photo Credit: Adam Whitmore

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Danika Smith – ‘Sweet Mellow D’

A gentle, atmospheric folk tune about feeling content after a period of personal growth, Melbourne-based songwriter Danika Smith has shared her latest single ‘Sweet Mellow D’. Full of lush guitar sounds and soft vocals, Smith subtly fuses elements of jazz and soul music to create a soothing, wholesome soundscape.

“’Sweet Mellow D’ feels like a song of recognition of my personal growth,” Smith explains. “I believe we all have to go on a journey of healing within our lifetime. One of unlearning and relearning, in order to truly know ourselves and to live a life that is fulfilling and meaningful. I feel like I’m only starting to know myself now. The day this song was inspired, I was sitting there with the nylon on my lap, and I felt mellow and content. I thought about those swirling years of pain and confusion in contrast to the peace, and so I put it into song, with deep gratitude to the power of music.”

Smith’s gratitude unfolds over the course of the track, with her lilting guitar riffs and calm, clear vocals guiding her listeners along a similar journey. Co-produced with Grammy nominated engineer Nick Herrera, ‘Sweet Mellow D’ is the second single to be lifted from Smith’s highly anticipated debut album, which is set for release in early 2021. Listen to the track below and follow Danika Smith on bandcamp, Spotify & Facebook for more updates.

 

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Guest Blog: Nuala Honan

Having just released her latest album Doubt & Reckoning last month, Australian Bristol-based Nuala Honan has been evolving her songwriting over the years from acoustic folk artist to a grittier, more eclectic, sound, whilst losing none of her reflective lyrical storytelling.

A collection of lilting, heartfelt offerings, the new album showcases a soaring, emotion-strewn splendour and the subtle, stirring power of Honan’s rich vocals.

Following the album’s release, Nuala has reflected on the influence of water on her music, and the strong feelings it evokes in her. Read her guest blog below:

FOR A SOUL-SAVING NEW SOUND, JUST ADD WATER

When I was a kid growing up in Australia, I spent a lot of time at the beach. I had so much to love and cherish in life then, but I was also often unhappy. On walks down the beach by myself, once out of earshot, I would shout at the sea. Long, musical wailing, improvising words and melodies about my woes and teenage crushes, writing my first songs. I still shout at the sea when I get the chance.

The landscape where I grew up is big, and flat, and the sky and sea goes on forever. Something about bigness soothes my soul, keeps me grounded, and speaks to me in a way that I speak back and write songs. I honestly can’t think of anything more spiritual to me than water and music, hand in hand. Since moving to England’s South West sixteen years ago, I’ve transferred that love of the ocean to England’s cold, stretching network of rivers and lakes.

In the ’90s, the Eyre Peninsula – my dusty corner of South Australia – had no accessible live music, no DIY or riot grrrl culture, and no internet to seek it out. Gifted an acoustic guitar for my fifteenth birthday, I fell into folk and eventually country. It was satisfying and leant itself to my autobiographical musings. I ended up making a living that way, often playing alone, but after a decade I ended up in a rut. Not just creatively but physically and mentally in my work and self, so I took the step into counselling.

Very quickly my therapy revealed a desire to take a break from my music and the unsustainable DIY artist grind that I’d wound up living, and I applied to be a lifeguard at an outdoor swimming lake, an old flooded quarry in North Bristol.

The most interesting thing I’ve learned working at the lake is the power of being bored (not so bored I get distracted from the task, you are in safe hands!). But I spend hours on end without a phone or the internet, surrounded by trees and wildlife and water, listening. I process ideas for songs, and have the time to repeat and reinforce them. I feel safe to ask myself why I make music, and what I want to communicate. I sing when I think no one’s listening, and I quite literally stared across the lake at the big willow tree for months, planning the photoshoot for my album artwork.

The space and balance the lake brought to my life made room for me to consider themes from my counselling and re-examine my creativity. The track ‘How to Shame You’ from my new album is an ode to my childhood bully. I wrote it consciously, to cast off and free myself from pain I was holding onto. It marked a transition, where I cast aside my old way of writing and weaved myself outside my comfort zone. You can hear the country sound in the verses sweeping into the new belting psychedelic sound in the chorus.

People are often surprised to hear I suffer with self-doubt and anxiety; they only see the confident gig or final version of a song (the studio stage might be the only place in the world I love more than the water!). It took a lot of practice in courage to pull myself, this band, and this album together, and I learned a lot about courage from winter swimming at the lake. Lowering your body into water is totally mad. It takes a mindset of courage and acceptance to get in. The sensation of catching my breath, feeling the blood move to my core, the needles and fizzing on the surface of my skin makes me feel totally alive. Then getting out of the water is a whole other feeling. Because my body is essentially in stress response, all my senses are heightened, I feel a bit like a superhero for two minutes as I stand beside the lake!

I think it’s the same experience making music. It’s terrifying, but it’s courageous and magical and human and even though you’re afraid, you have to do it anyway, and then you feel alive, and you make something beautiful.

Massive thanks to Nuala Honan for sharing her thoughts with us!

Doubt & Reckoning is out now. Listen on Spotify.

Photo Credit: Paul Blakemore