Co-produced by Ted Ponsonby and Kate O’Callaghan, 2013.
Further information about the recording can be found on the Music Page
Song Notes by Kate O’Callaghan:
Painted Lady – Inspired by the migratory flight of the Painted Lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui.
“As a child I was fascinated by these “Burning Orange” creatures, with their distinctive black and white spotted wing tips like watchful eyes. They were such a common sight in the summer months I assumed they were indigenous to our shores! I later learned of their migratory behavior and their spectacular flight each year from the desert fringes of North Africa, through mainland Europe and across the Irish sea. Such an epic journey for one so small and fragile it’s difficult to fathom. When recording the song we attempted to create a descriptive soundscape through the use of various instruments – delicate chimes, undulating vocals, searing violin harmonics and rolling conga rhythms. We even borrowed a mammoth orchestral bass drum (which barely fit into the tiny recording studio) in an effort to reflect the immensity of the journey undertaken by the insect and in some way capture the “essence of her might“. The frequency of the drum was so low it felt like a scene from Jurassic Park and in the end up had to be adjusted so that the average domestic speaker could cope with it – ironically, we had created our very own ‘Butterfly Effect’.”
My Dear – A song about love and happiness and the heart ache felt when separated from those we are most attached to.
Left In Disbelief (Lament for John) – “While working on a local community project based on the Island of Inishtrahull (located 7miles north east of Malin Head, off the Donegal coast), I learned about the life story of a fisherman and talented musician and singer named John Donovan, who was born on the island (1914) and tragically died at a young age. He had left behind him a locally treasured collection of recordings on vinyl, including a version of the well known song ‘My Lovely Irish Rose’. In a sad kind of way I felt that his own demise seemed to echo the plight of the once thriving island community, compelled to evacuate their homes in the 1920’s and re-settle on the mainland. Written from the perspective of an imagined loved-one left behind – a symbol of the Island itself – mourning for her loss, she prays that the “constant light” of the lighthouse (at one time so vital to the very existence of it’s inhabitants) will guide her dearest safely home to rest.”
Reverie of A Radiant Knight – Nostalgic reminiscence of a childhood sweetheart. Inspired by the memory of summer holidays and fairgrounds and fantasy characters.
Don’t Think So – A tongue-in-cheek song about the idiosyncrasies of relationships and the little white lies we “spin to avoid’” offending our nearest and dearest. “Funnily enough, in the recording studio we experimented with lots of instrumentation for this song – exploring the possibility of calypso lilts, caribbean backbeats and samba rhythms – to which the reply was “don’t think so” and stripped it right back to the bare bones – one voice and a ukulele – the unadorned truth of the song. (but we do love hamming it up live though!)”.
Feel – Raw, unadulterated, physical attraction between friends who never quite managed to get it together.
Jackal – “The Jackal is the negative inner voice hiding inside our heads which tends to jump out and bite us on the ass when we’re at our most low and vulnerable, scavenging on doubt and low self-esteem. The song attempts to overcome it’s subject though. It’s cathartic blues!”
Coldness At Dawn – “I wanted to express the mind numbing, emptiness felt when a relationship breaks down and that heart wrenching moment of awareness when you realise it’s finally over. There is that crucial turning point however, where you’ve reached rock bottom and the only way you can go is back up.”
Undone (A Song for Anna Parnell, 1852 – 1911) – Anna Parnell was a political activist in the late 19th century who, with her sister Fanny, established the Ladies Land League. The aim was to encourage working class country women to withhold rent and resist eviction, with the hope of abolishing landlordism. She initially set out to support her brother, the political Irish leader Charles Stewart Parnell, in his endeavors with the men’s Land League. However, story has it that the Land League men became more than a little discontented when the ladies accomplished the aims which the men, supposedly, had considered unachievable. In the end, the men’s Land League entered agreements with government, without the women’s consent, leaving the women disillusioned by the outcome of the campaign and resulting in the Ladies Land League disbanding. Anna deeply resented her brother’s actions and could never bring herself to forgive him. She bitterly recounted her experience in a book, The Tale of a Great Sham, where she voiced her indignation of the inferior treatment of women and the blatant sexual inequality that was rife in society. Having disconnected herself from her family, she lived out the rest of her life in solitude, until she accidentally drowned while swimming one day. The stress of her single-minded struggle eventually took it’s toll and when all was said and done she simply came “undone”.
You Said – “I wrote this song when my mother was undertaking the life-changing decision to take early retirement, sell her house that she lived in for 22 years and make the dramatic move from urban city living to rural Donegal. Moved by her courage and resoluteness, I found her ability to let go of all that was familiar to her with such gracefulness very admirable and inspiring.”
Beholder – “Taking stock of how we see ourselves and how we are viewed by others, I questioned the idea that as we age we often become more critical (of ourselves and others) a form of self obsession which can appear shallow, so maybe shallowness . . .lies in the eye of the beholder. But maybe there’s reassurance also in the mere fact that this is part of the human condition and something to be embraced . . . . . .”