Sometimes, the truest talent needs unearthing. It takes a little discovery to find what’s lost amongst the manufactured ubiquity, to find those who shine bright with the independent creative spirit.
We believe True Talent lies in the journey as well as the destination, that the creation of music takes more than instruments. It’s people with a story to tell, who believe in the power of music. In Ireland, we have a history of producing these people, that special breed. Music is in our country's DNA, it’s a vibrant and eclectic scene. We’ve produced some of the best, but beyond that, we’ve got the underdogs, the grafters. Perhaps it’s down of our country’s history, our struggle, that in the case of our unknowns, the buskers and the unsigned, there’s that little extra added grit and determination in their lyrics, the extra rasp in their words. And maybe that’s why so many have flown the nest.
In a search for talent, where better to start than home? We present the first batch of True Talent in Ireland.
Take a trip to Temple Bar and we defy you to try and escape the music. Sometimes questionable in quality but always there in numbers, Dublin buskers are vital part of the fabric of Ireland. Like many before him, Gavin James cut his teeth singing for his supper on these harsh cobbles. He soon outgrew this life and soon moved into the pubs, where industry scouts saw a potential far beyond his 21 years.
He couldn’t have asked for a better year than 2012. An iTunes number 1 for his first EP - “Say Anything”, a record deal on his 21st birthday, a Kodaline support slot and a Meteor Choice Song of The Year award for the EP’s title track, which you can hear below. Not bad. His album’s out at the tail end of 2013, so if you want to catch him in a pub, do so before he’s moved on to arenas.
His music is beyond his years. His soulful folk is soft but surprisingly gravelly, his songwriting poignant and cinematic. As Damien Rice and Glen Hansard did before him, he fits that universal Dublin busker mould, but at the same time manages to break it.
The ink on the inside of his arm reads “dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today” and it seems he lives true to these words. A fiercely driven and immensely talented individual, his rise from busker, pedaling covers on Dublin’s windy lanes, to providing his old compatriots with a new set of soulful numbers to serenade the streets with, is a particularly Irish rags to riches story.
Less of a new face, County Wicklow’s Fionn Regan, is a welcome mainstay in Ireland’s musical landscape. Regularly tipped as one of the greatest singer-songwriters our country has produced in a decade, the troubadour is a true bard in the mould of Neil Young or Bob Dylan. If you haven’t heard his newest album, ‘The Bunkhouse’ you’ve made a terrible mistake. It’s a DIY affair, recorded in his home studio on a four-track recorder, a masterpiece of pared-back simplicity.
"You can call it folk, but I feel in a lot of ways it’s like an Irish punk album, in that it’s pure, it's stripped down, it goes against the status quo and it was made with just what I have at my disposal."
Not satisfied with just making beautiful, soulful music, Regan is also a gifted artist, poet and writer. Jack of all trades, master of the whole bloody lot. It’s not exclusively an Irish thing to find inspiration in the poets and writers before us, maybe it’s a folk thing, but Regan manages, moreso than many others, to really break down the boundaries between literature and song. When he first discovered the words of Dylan Thomas, he said; “I felt comforted in my own thoughts dark and bright. I felt a sense of communion, a smaller tree, in the same neck of the woods bearing the same weather conditions…I felt the need to reflect with pen, paper, guitar and voice."
A bard by all accounts, we’re sure Thomas wouldn’t rue the association.
Right, enough from us, it’s about the right time to sign off and let you explore the aural delights of Gavin and Fionn. We do hope you enjoyed, but, really, why are you still here? Go, listen, enjoy.