Culture Ireland 2024

Finola Merivale is an Irish composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music, currently living in New York City. She is a Dean’s Fellow at Columbia University where she is pursuing a DMA in Composition, studying with George Lewis, Georg Friedrich Haas and Zosha Di Castri. Themes that run across her music include climate change, inequality and a sense of place – both real and imagined.

Though distinctly Irish in his storytelling and sense of melody, lullahush’s music is unlike anything coming out of Ireland’s thriving music scene at the moment. With songwriting influences as diverse as Leonard Cohen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Colleen, Mica Levi and Floating Points, he synthesises the harsh machine sounds of electronic instruments with an earnest sensibility that humanises the glitches. His upcoming album A City Made of Water and Small Love, like many other Irish works of art before it, is partly an homage to Dublin, its geographies and everyday idiosyncrasies. Full of elegy and nostalgia for moments barely just passed, every beat of the kick drum is just as intentionally placed as a breath or lyric.

Maria Somerville hosts 2 regular shows on NTS, The Early Bird Show w/ Maria Somerville and Maria Somerville, and has been hosting since 10 April 2019. On 20 May 2019, Maria Somerville was a guest on The Do!! You!!! Breakfast Show w/ Charlie Bones. Maria Somerville has been played on NTS over 30 times, featured on 38 episodes and was first played on 15 January 2019. Maria Somerville draws on folk forms alongside post-punk, traditional Irish motifs, starry eyed pop and hypnotic drones to create wholly original music that is borne of her roots in Connemara, Western Ireland.

Her debut album All My People channels the wilderness of the Irish landscape through dense, ethereal soundscapes, bare boned percussion and a heady electronic undertow, interspersed with ghostly vocals that are ever present and all encompassing, like crystalline glints of sunshine peeking through dark stormy clouds.

On the eponymously titled final song of her debut album Land of No Junction, Irish songwriter Aoife Nessa Frances sings “Take me to the land of no junction/Before it fades away/Where the roads can never cross/But go their own way.” This search, indeed the heart of the album, recalls journeys towards an ever shifting centre – a centre that cannot hold – with maps that are constantly being rewritten.

Aoife now currently lives in North Dublin, but spent most of her childhood along the city’s southern coastline with the Irish Sea: she still swims there regularly, and her connection to the ocean is palpable in her songwriting. Born into a large and creative family – her mother is an actor, her father a fiddle-maker – she was encouraged by both her parents to play music from a young age. She took up the guitar at 11, eventually taking flamenco guitar lessons until she suffered a hand injury: It broke my heart not being able to play that kind of music but the injury also made me rethink how I could play and shaped my style today – mostly strumming and fingerpicking.

Irish artist Hilary Woods is a self-avowed outsider working across sound, song, writing and analogue filmmaking. Her fiercely DIY work ethic cultivates practices that are almost in call and response to each other. Evocative experimentalism and sonically heavy excavations give way to the intimacy and tenderness of a deeply personal and intuitive song-writing. Her sound is embedded with a visual potency, physicality and a moving majesty that is accompanied by her own hand processed 16mm film in live performance. 2023 will see the release of Hilary’s third full length record on Sacred Bones Records. Past live performances include shows at Le Guess Who, Zemlika, Southbank, Beyond the Gate, Quarter Block Party and St Pancras Old Church.

Recognised as a purveyor of dreamier pop with folky leanings, Brigid Mae Power is set to release her new album this summer. ‘Dream From The Deep Well’ is a departure; a unique marriage of traditional stylings and very modern melodies; a breath-taking soundtrack which underpins her gorgeous vocal.

Filled with personal tales of offspring and grandparents, the lovelorn and the lost, it’s the essence of re-imagined folk music. Modern folk for modern folk, Brigid’s evocative vocals alongside strings, steel guitar, horns and mellotron adds to the baroque loveliness whilst waving back at her rootsy past, daubing new colours on a much-loved canvas.