Sound travels. Sound permeates. Sound breaks barriers and knocks down walls. Sound is all around us. Of course, you have to chose to listen. To notice it.
Sound is also the new album from Niall Connolly - an album of songs written from the perspective of a life less ordinary. The Cork songwriter has spent the last seven years in New York City, breathing deeply and soaking up the myriad influences of one of the world’s greatest and most vibrant cities.
The album was recorded with Connolly’s regular live band, featuring performances by Manchester-born songwriter, Warren Malone, Brandon Wilde (Black Bunny, This Way), Len Monachello (All Night Chemists, This Way) and Dennis Cronin ( Lambchop, Josh Rouse, Vic Chestnutt, Vitamin-D, the Quavers).
Similar to many great Irish songwriters, Connolly has always managed to convey the personal in a manner that allowed his listeners to feel included; to take something from his songs that we could call our own, while also feeling that we were sharing an insight into a life worth considering.
Sound takes us in new directions, however. Years of touring the US and Europe, meeting new people, confronting different cultures, has brought both the songwriter and listener to a point where we are now sharing these songs with a far larger number of people.
In the words of the songwriter: “Some of the songs are imagined biographies, or rather chapters of biographies of people I’ve never known. The album is full of curiousity - about the lives, personalities and circumstances of the fleeting encounters with countless people. The people who, in a way, make all the things I do worth doing.”
Whether it is his observations on the financial wasteland of the West (‘Lily of the Mohawks’) or the erosion of common decency around our world (‘Come Back to the Table’), Connolly, writes intelligently and with extraordinary clarity about some of the issues of our day.
Far from lecturing, however, Connolly’s songs contain hope and no shortage of a dry Irish wit. Take ‘Brooklyn Sky’, where ‘Mohammed and Jacob and Jesus are all kicking in the basement playing Bluegrass tunes’. In an imagined world where this can happen, surely anything is possible?
The lead track ‘Samurai’ opened the doors of Sound a little to let us look inside. What we find in there is an album carved from the giant rock that is life. Lovingly etched in places, by a songwriter who has truly learned his craft. Sound brings Connolly’s music to a new plateau, and it is a place where the views are worth sharing.