Acclaimed Irish Singer Róisín O Releases Long-Awaited “Courageous”
Like so many artists the world over, acclaimed Irish singer Róisín O watched as her plans for 2020 turned to dust in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdowns. As weeks turned to months, she used the down time to rethink her musical trajectory and return to the solo work she had once left behind.
The result is Courageous, a ten-song collection of original material that charts a course through love, heartbreak and redemption. Release date is April 29, on Blix Street Records.
Courageous began when the lockdown gave Róisín something she had not experienced since she began recording and touring more than ten years ago, time, and became the impetus for creating new music. The new album mines her emotional depths with soaring vocals that elevates it to something at once intimate and epic. She has termed Courageous her “autobiography.”
“All of a sudden, all plans were cancelled, and all I could really do was sit at home and write music,” she said. “I was able to lock myself away, and the songs just started pouring out of me when there were no other distractions. I wasn’t writing with a purpose in mind, and that honesty is what’s intriguing about the songs that emerged. I felt the songs that were coming out were completely for myself.”
As the pandemic raged, Róisín took refuge in the bucolic coastal fishing village of Dingle, in Ireland’s southwest. She sometimes sharing the space with her musician brother, Danny O’Reilly, who fronts Ireland’s popular band The Coronas. The Coronas, for their part, were dealing with sharing a name with the virus that was shutting down the world.
While the ups and downs of relationships dominate the themes of Courageous, there are also songs that convey an unbridled optimism about what the future will hold, perhaps the result of the world slowly opening up after such a long and frightening lockdown. Hope appears to be the resounding consequence of uncertainty and despair, as evidenced by the title track.
The first song to emerge was “Heart + Bones,” co-written with Danny. It is a powerful anthem, with poignant lyrics that began as a song for The Coronas, until Róisín realized it was her own voice she was hearing in it. “It’s a confession, a truth that I’d been suppressing for a long while,” she explains. “It wasn’t until I got those lyrics down on paper that I began to understand some things about myself. It’s the most honest thing I’ve ever written.”
Released as a Róisín O single in January 2021, “Heart + Bones,” which RiffMagazine.com referred to it as “a catharsis personified,” became the foundation for a new solo project. “It felt like it was the right time to get back to Róisín O,” she recalls. Róisín called upon a team of Irish musical talents to bring the project to completion. Producer Philip Magee did much of the heavy lifting, joined by True Cian McSweeney, who also co-produced two of the tracks with Magee and co-wrote the second single “2023,” released last May, with Wild Youth, The Script, The Academic Tides’ producer/ engineer Ruadhri Cushnan, and Róisín’s long-time collaborator, John, for two of the songs: “Still Gold,” which was released as a single in September, and Róisín.
Grammy®-winning Broe, with whom she shared the passion project called Thanks Brother, held the reins for “Call It Love.”
“‘Courageous’ is the last song I wrote for the album,” Róisín explains, “so when it came to picking a title for the album, this track stood out instantly because it relates to the circumstances of the album’s creation as a whole. With this album I really dove into the lyrics without much restraint, and it became an autobiography of the last few years of my life when I’ve dealt with a whole range of emotions. Deciding to return to my solo career was a huge step for me, and it took courage I didn’t know I had.”