Ciara O’Neill is an acclaimed and much-loved singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Portadown, Northern Ireland. Following the huge reception across Ireland and in the US for her debut album The Ebony Trail, Ciara is gearing up to release her follow up, Arrow, in July 2018. The album will be preceded by a single, Hurtin’/Dreamer on 30th April, and Hurtin’ (also our Song of the Day) is accompanied by a suitably atmospheric video which Ciara edited together from old family footage from the Fifties and Seventies and the clip beautifully explores the history of her native Portadown. Watch it below:
Ciara shared the following on the song and video:
‘Hurtin’ is from the perspective of someone who realises the other person wasn’t the problem, not an easy thing to admit. It was recorded in a very organic way in an old country house and you can hear the crows outside the studio on the recording. The video is a montage of old family movies from the 50’s around my hometown of Portadown, Northern Ireland. The haunting grainy quality of the images seemed to fit in with the ambience of the song, very simple and with a personal touch.’
Ciara will launch Arrow with a performance at the prestigious Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast on 5th May (ticket link) and an intimate appearance at The Green Note Café in London on 28th May ticket link(). Arrow was written during trips between Northern Ireland and Nashville and was recorded and produced in the legendary Millbank Studios (Northern Ireland) with the help of producer Michael Mormecha (Malojian/Ciaran Lavery).
Arrow showcases a songwriter at the peak of her powers, featuring ten original compositions by Ciara. She describes Arrow as “alternative folk noir”, with songs such as Favourite Mistake and Hurtin’ representing the influence Nashville has had on her writing style and others like Dreamer and Storms Coming being more along poetic, folk-inspired lines. In terms of lyrical themes, the album has a sense of light and shade and explores themes of loneliness and lost love, while also offering encouragement, comfort and catharsis.
Having been favourably compared to luminaries such as Lisa Hannigan and Dolores O’Riordan, Ciara happily cites them as inspirations, alongside other fellow Irish artists such as Glen Hansard and American folk artists Elliott Smith and The Civil Wars. Alongside her musical muses, Ciara finds lyrical and poetic inspiration from writers such as Haruki Murakami, Dylan Thomas and Isabelle Allende. In keeping with Ciara’s romantic, artistic way of being, Arrow was recorded in a suitably characterful environment, as she explains: “Arrow’ was made in a drafty creaky old house in the country, if you listen closely you’ll hear the wind and the birds outside the studio window on the recording”. In addition to writing solo, Ciara is also a keen collaborator and has worked with many world-class songwriters and artists over the past few years including Grammy winner Don Henry (Ray Charles/Miranda Lambert) and Max T. Barnes (Colin Raye/Randy Travis).
Ciara has performed many shows across Ireland and in the US, including at the iconic Nashville venue the Bluebird Café. She played for a TV audience of 60 million in the States alongside Grammy nominees Iain Archer and Jim Lauderdale as part of the Music City Roots, Belfast To Nashville programme. She has further visits to Nashville and a tour for the UK and Ireland in the pipeline and recently showcased at the 2018 Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City, Missouri. With the launch of Arrow, it seems inevitable that the UK and the wider world will start to hear one of the best kept secrets in the business.
Photo Credit: Carrie Davenport