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Introducing: Ryan Vail (Winner of NI Music Prize’s Album of the Year)

The Back Story: …while we are witnessing politicians try to redefine where we live, Ryan Vail and Eoin O’Callaghan are providing the soundtrack. 

Ryan Vail has released two wonderful solo albums that could sit comfortably at a party with Nils Frahm or Jóhann Jóhannsson and a collaboration with Ciaran Lavery to show he works well and plays well with others. Eoin O’Callaghan is Best Boy Grip, Wake America and Elma Orkestra and has released albums under each of the monikers covering a variety of styles. So you can safely assume that these two can fairly easily do whatever they want.

What they want is to make a lasting comment on what Brexit could possibly mean to us in Ireland. They have coupled this with a set of visuals created by drone enthusiast Eoin and a laser show created by Ryan. The result is the genesis of a completely unique live experience, the knock-on effect of which is that it makes other people think about their own particular situations and the show has been taken on the road.

The political themes running throughout the album include a sample of politician Seamus Mallon and a poem by Dublin writer Stephen James Smith which keep one of the album’s feet in Ireland’s past and the other in Ireland’s now. When I asked Ryan why the political theme, he told me “if you’re going to write about something then write about something”. 

The haunting beauty is never more encapsulated than on “Colours”, which features the vocals of Clannad’s Moya Brennan. Overall there is a wonderful flow and the current disaster that’s going on around us doesn’t seem like the political disasters of the past that were beyond our control and understanding.

Key Track: “Arrival” the musical equivalent of waves lashing on the shore 

For Fans Of: Nils Frahm, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Irish music, poetry

Image Credit: Eoin O’Callaghan

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