Mark O’Reilly L’Etre Politique Album Review

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized
Marc O'Reilly Band; Kirsty Burge Photography

Marc O’Reilly pictured with his band; Photo Credit: Kirsty Burge Photography

Marc O’Reilly is an artist that cannot be defined simply as folk or blues, but instead teases elements of both, achieving optimal emotional depth that is unwinding and stirring. He understands his power behind those versatile vocals and in his wake, balancing and challenging genres. And between the trio’s synchronised drums, keys and guitars, they maintain off the scale rhythms and impeccable timings. The standout guitar solos of Walk With Me and Be Alive almost rival the folk elements.

Yet when those folk elements arrive mid-way, it’s exquisite – the unwinding, acoustics  of Fire with its sweeping strings and echoing vocals provides momentary calm. Think White Denim at their most pared back on ‘Corsicana Lemonade’ with echoes of Nick Drake’s instrumentals on River Man (‘Five Leaves Left’).

The lighter, huskier, James Vincent McMorrow-esque vocals and barely there instrumentals of Solitary Ease and Walk With Me are absolutely sublime – we reckon a collaboration between the pair is long overdue.

On this record there are more contemporary parallels with American/Canadian artists to be drawn and it’s the sharp timings and garage-rock leanings of Quiet Place which give warm echoes of Jesse Mac Cormack. While it is Walk With Me that takes centre stage, channelling the Americana-Psychedelia of White Denim.

This fourth album: ‘L’Etre Politique’ is inspired (as it’s title hints) by the politics of human interactions and of being; capitalism, war and globalisation. The album opener: Enemy Of and the epic closer: Shadows are equally full bodied explosions of guitar and drums encasing a solid record, that frames O’Reilly at his finest.

L’Etre Politique is out now via Dox Records!

Marc O'Reilly L'Etre Politique; Album Artwork




Foy Vance // Union Chapel // Live Review

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

Foy Vance; Union Chapel; Spiral Magazine; Will SteadmanFoy Vance turned the Union Chapel into his living room last Friday night, entertaining a 900-strong crowd with his commanding, modern blend of Americana, folk, roots, and blues. Leaving his band at home in Bangor, Northern Ireland; a piano, acoustic guitar, and a ukulele is all that was needed to bring a warm glow to this corner of North London on a brisk Autumn evening.

Opening powerfully at the piano with Unlike Any Other, the audience falls pin-drop silent. Eager grins radiate through the pews like a mini Mexican wave of awe. Vance establishes an immediately casual, intimate atmosphere, drawing the crowd in with his dry wit, self-deprecation and off-the-cuff approach to the set, almost like we’re all sat round a big camp fire. Making use of loop pedals and plenty of chorus effect, he switches between instruments and segues between songs with ease.

Foy Vance; (4) Union Chapel; Spiral Magazine; Will Steadman.jpg

Introduced to his music five years ago by a friend who insisted I listen to a then, little-known B-side called: Indiscriminate Act of Kindness, which he said, is such a perfect example of a well-crafted song, that he teaches it as part of the songwriting degree he runs at a renowned London music college – I’ve seen Vance go from a relative unknown jobbing songwriter to a respected veteran with a top 30 album and a recent tour with Elton John under his belt. Despite all this, he has retained an air of exclusivity about him, and is backed tirelessly by a loyal fan base.

As the night progresses he showcases songs from 2016’s: ‘The Wild Swan’ including Coco and Upbeat Feel Good; favourites Guiding Light and Closed Hand Full of Friends; several shrewd covers including a divine version of Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ on grand piano and a sprinkling of newer material including Moonshine.

Vance is an artist bold enough and free enough to create precisely the music he wants. Authentic, genuine and committed to his craft, while many contemporaries at his career-stage creatively stagnate or decline, he has matured as a writer and performer. Live he excels. Natural, relaxed and oozing with confidence; playing unaccompanied tonight elevates Vance and provides him the space to showcase his (quite frankly) outstanding voice, which resonates around the Chapel’s gothic interior, filling every dark nook and cranny. Its intricate and rich timbre warms you like a well-aged bourbon.

Performing for well over two hours in total with no encore, capping it off with a moving a capella rendition of The Wild Swans on The Lake, inspired by W.B. Yeats’ poem The Wild Swans at Coole, with the audience dutifully humming the drone.

Foy Vance; (3) Union Chapel; Spiral Magazine; Will Steadman

Vance sold-out the Union Chapel across the three nights, Thursday to Saturday (2nd-4th Nov). His outstanding album, The Wild Swan, is out now.

Follow Foy Vance on Twitter // Facebook

Words and Photography: WILL STEADMAN (@STEADMAN_WILL)


Band of the Week // Introducing // Hanging Valleys



Hanging Valleys, a recent project founded by English-Mexican Singer-Songwriter, Thom Byles, are immediately heart-warming. Previous solo artist, Byles, has distinct falsetto vocals that draw instant parallels with the hushed atmospheric quality of Bon Iver and James Vincent McMorrow.

Accompanied by Mike Philips on acoustic guitar and Alexis Meridol on percussion, the three-piece create low, lulling arrangements that give contour and light to darkness.

The peaceful cycle to their songs reciprocate natures rhythm and provide a fitting companion to the autumnal sweeping movement of present.

Tune in below for your perfect headphones companion this weekend:


By the time Monday arrives, you’ll be itching to join us at The Slaughtered Lamb, where Hanging Valleys will be supporting the dreamy Celtic harp, Dublin-based duo, Saint Sister:


Hanging Valleys // Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram


Slow Dancer and Jack Robert Hardman, Live Review // The Lock Tavern, Camden

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

(Jack Robert Hardman and Slow Dancer at The Lock Tavern; 25/05/16)

Literally as we arrived, Benedict Benjamin was packing away his guitar. Although I had seen him the night before, my friend tonight, had missed the opportunity. His upcoming show at The Finsbury: 13/06/16 however, is not to be missed.

The second act for tonight’s support came from London based singer-songwriter, Jack Robert Hardman, who had a really lively wit about him. Wry in person and song. Each song goaded by a sharpness of wisdom and yet helplessly romantic.

Opening with a song that he laughed off humbly as being: “…more stylish than it actually is”. Prior to playing, came personal tokens of dedication. A special moment arrived when his friend, Nick, joined him in a duet of The Rosettes’ ‘Be My Baby’; “This is to my favourite musical psychopath”. The harmonies between them, effortless.

Reincarnating a presence of 60’s song-songwriters, it seemed only a natural to give Roy Orbison a nod along the way: “…This next song is inspired by Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’, and if you don’t know who he is, then you’re dense” Jack taunted us, mockingly.

The night felt wonderfully homely, as though we had gathered in a family attic. Softly encased by the warm glow of red tea lights and fairy lights, circling a close knit gathering of us about the sofas and stools. Each us, silenced by the raspy vocals and acoustic guitar.

It was during the tuning of the last song which allowed for a greater interaction. “So this next song was written during the year of the olympics”. To which an audience member replied: “So what year was that then?” Jack’s sharp witted response had us all laughing: “I used to be a good kid, it went a bit downhill during the teenage years…” ‘Famous’ was a beautiful signature to his set. Understated and entirely memorable. I only wished I had tickets to see him at Glastonbury.

From the moment Slow Dancer began, we all just fell into a trance like state. Taken far out and beyond our daily monotony, we had to almost pinch ourselves to remind us it was still a Wednesday, and we was soon to go outside to British weather. Each track allotted together as though a jigsaw of past memorabilia of our own making.

Slow Dancer, a solo project of Simon Okely, from Western Australia, embodies this mediative warmth, unlocking and entering the minds of all, to provide a near out-of-body experience. Reaching emotional depth through slow, graceful affected guitar melodies. With the occasional songs of a “Nick Drake tuning” combined with the hypnotic breathy horse vocals, it made for an enchanting summery evening. It was one of those rare opportunities of setting out to see an artist you know but find yourself walking away elated by the discovery of another two, and very different, artists.


Photographer and Videographer: Elizabeth Andrade 

Writer: Rachael Crabtree

Benedict Benjamin


Jack Robert Hardman


Slow Dancer



Musician of the Week // Introducing // Jesse Mac Cormack


Jesse Mac Cormack; Joannie Grenier

Since discovering Canadian Singer-Songwriter, Jesse Mac Cormack on this year’s Great Escape’s list of acts, (albeit too late sadly), ‘After the Glow’ has taken root in my mind, playing out as a filmic backdrop. There is something tragically romantic, both lyrically and acoustically that very quickly takes hold of you. This bluesy warmth of voice reaches out, like an actor baring his heart on the stage with a foreshadowing monologue: “Something’s going to kill us. No, nothing’s going to save us”.

With a percussive staccato beat mirroring the movement of a clock hand, the gentle melancholia becomes accentuated and pent upon time and death: “Coming from the inside, nothing we could fight or deny…growing slowly for a while. Slowly it will die”. This minimalist multi-instrumental and yet melodramatic undertone of Mac Cormack’s songwriting is prevalent across his material.

Something special can only come from his live performance, which I cannot wait to see tonight (24/05/16) at The Shacklewell Arms.

‘After the Glow’ was released 16/02/16 on Secret City Records.




Mt Wolf headline Oslo // Hackney 10/05/16


Paul Bence Photography

Ahead of their headlining show at Oslo, Hackney on Tuesday 10th May, ambient-folk three-piece, Mt Wolf release bundle –  Hex EP (Ltd Edition 12″ vinyl) and gig ticket

Secret Sessions introduced me to these, back in January this year. It was such a mesmerising performance, an experience that left us only wishing to relive again.

They paint the room with this beguiling aura that ascends to such an expansive backdrop, remaining with you long after they fade into the night.

As their layered echoed harmonies blend with the mixed-electronic-acoustic wall, Mt Wolf very organically shape their own otherworldly entity.

Here they are performing ‘Anacrusis’ opening 2016’s Secret Sessions in January.

Tickets are far and few between, so I’d be quick…

Image; Mt Wolf by Paul Bence Photography

One for the playlist – Little Lapin, Californian Sun


Little LapinYou know that moment when BBC Radio 6 Music is just playing as life’s backdrop and suddenly catches you? Alright, that happens often, but this afternoon Little Lapin, compelled me to tune in and turn it up.

Check out Latest single: Californian Sun tinged with americana, of a familiarity and freshness in equal measure. With a gentle acoustic guitar riff has a bit of a 60’s singer-songwriter feel to it, accompanied by warm vocals that almost meet PJ Harvey and Chrissie Hind along the way.

Looking forward to hearing more from these.




An Interview With Orchid Collective // 2016’s Ones To Watch

Interviews, Uncategorized


Orchid Collective press possibleAhead of their Offset Festival stage in Dublin last week, I caught up with alt-folk-rock quartet, Orchid Collective (consisting of David O’Shea, Shea Tohill, Brian Rooney and Hugh O’Neill), to gain an insight into their band, their thoughts on what it means to be original in music today and how Dublin is one of the greatest cities on earth.

Orchid Collective caught my attention the other week when music venue, Whelans, announced a sold-out show for the launch of their latest single: ‘Lay As Stone’. I don’t know about you, but following music venues on social media can sometimes be an excellent way of discovering new artists. Especially when there are hundreds of flipping strong acts out there, going frustratingly unnoticed, though I doubt I’m alone in feeling aggravated by this?

So when I discovered I was missing out on Orchid Collective’s gig I was pretty mad, you only have to have to listen to their organic, textured single: ‘Lay As Stone’, to feel these are very much a live band. Their guitaring hooked me from the start, convincing me these were a band to keep tabs on.

Would you mind talking me through the band’s origins – did you all meet at Dublin’s music college (BIMM)?

Yeah we all studied together in the music college BIMM Dublin, three of us are graduating this year and I (Shea) graduated last year. It’s funny looking back now but Dave our singer posted a thread looking to start a band in the BIMM Facebook forum when we started the course. I replied and me and Dave started meeting up and writing songs and jamming a few ideas. Soon we started gigging the local open mic circuit. We soon got our drummer Brian on board and built a seven piece band around us. We toured Ireland and played a few festivals with this line up but quickly realised that touring with such a big band was impractical. Last year we found our bass player Hugh and we haven’t looked back since!

What was that experience like, do you think that the training always had you unconsciously aiming to ‘make it’ as a band?

BIMM Dublin is a great college and it provides advice and training on all area’s of the music industry. Without studying in BIMM we would never have became a band! It helps you carve a path to “making it’’ as a band but not in a Fame Academy sense. The tutors make us very aware that the music industry is a very difficult industry to make a career in, but if you put the work in and with the right amount of luck things can start to take shape. They provide great advice and encouragement and what we are doing now as final years is to try and apply that advice in the real world.

Have you all been in similar sounding outfits pre-Orchid Collective? Or have you jumped about the genres? Would you say the sound you’ve got today has taken a while to shape and how would you describe your sound?

Our singer Dave used to be in a pop-punk band, Brian and Hugh are heavily influenced by Michael Jackson and John Mayer. Hugh is a songwriter in his own right and I used to play in a grunge band! Don’t ask how we came to sounding like Orchid Collective… We all bonded through a love of folk music and harmonies, we are all big fans of Fleet Foxes, Local Natives and Bon Iver. The sound we have comes quite naturally, we all gel really well as a band. Our press release says we’re an alternative folk band but we’ll let you, the listener decide. There’s too many genres to choose from these days!

When it comes to the writing process, what do you find comes first, the lyrics or the musical arrangement?

Quite often Dave comes with the bare bones of a song on the acoustic guitar and a handful of lyrics. As a band we build around that, adding our own ideas and shaping it into an ‘Orchid Collective’ song. Other times we bring our own melodic ideas and we write around these. We have a back log of little ideas we hope to turn into songs, you might hear some on our next EP who knows!

Do you find that there’s any difference between writing poetry and lyrics?

I’ll let Dave answer this one…I think the only difference between writing poetry and lyrics is that when I approach lyrics they are written to fit the melody therefore having to say more or less depending on the structure of the song. With poetry you have more freedom on how much you want to say in the piece of work by not being restricted by any length of time or rhythm.

In Dublin, you’re so fortunate to have everything on your doorstep; the city, the mountains and the beach…plenty of space to escape to, is there a favourite sanctuary you go to write?

Yeah Dublin is a beautiful city. We would probably venture out to the Dublin Mountains to write if the weather was a bit better but usually we just find we write in our bedrooms looking at the rain from our windows!

Do you find that living amongst such beauty is almost taken for granted, sometimes?

Yeah definitely! We always chat about this, we think if you were a tourist visiting Dublin it would definitely be up there with the greatest cities on earth. It’s a beautiful city with lots of things happening but living in it we often take it for granted.

Congratulations on selling out Whelans for your first single launch the other week! I bet you can’t wait to share your first EP? I’m itching to know when we can expect that?!

Thank you! Yeah that was definitely our favourite show to date. You can expect the new EP in late September/ early October. We are currently in pre production and we’re hitting the studio this summer. We can’t wait to share it all with you!

That’s fantastic news, and for the year ahead, what else can we look forward to?

We have a few festivals confirmed for this summer ahead of releasing the new EP in the Autumn. We’re planning on touring pretty hard until the end of the year and I think a trip across the pond to the UK is on the horizon later in the year. We have loads of exciting things in store!

If you were to tour with a band of choice, who would be up there and why?

Bon Iver, Half Moon Run, Local Native’s, Fleet Foxes, The Tallest Man on Earth… any of our influences really, it’s hard to choose one!

What do you think it takes to be original in music today?

There’s so much music these days and so many genre’s and sub-genre’s it’s quite difficult to be ‘original’ anymore. Our outlook is taking something that is already there and putting your own stamp on it is enough to create originality in this day in age.

How difficult do you all find it is to get recognised as a musician? Surely it’s harder than ever, and everyone is after the same end goal, there must be moments when you become disillusioned, but what/who has given you the most confidence to pursue ‘Orchid Collective’?

It’s very difficult but we’re all quite focused on trying to make something of this band! We’ve had our down days but the highlights hugely outweigh these. We’ve recently started working with a manager who has encouraged us even further that there could be a career in the Orchid Collective for us.

That’s really positive, aside from working with a really great manager, what other moments have been particular highlights for the band?

Releasing Lay As Stone to a sold out Whelan’s if definitely up there. Just the reception to our latest single has been pretty amazing so far!

What advice would you give to budding musicians, like yourselves, needing to get the recognition they deserve?

Just be yourselves! If you put the work in it really does pay off and hopefully it will continue to pay off for us!

Absolutely, being true to yourself is probably the best recommendation you could give! And finally, before you go, are there any musical recommendations you’d like to share with us?

There’s some brilliant Irish music coming out at the moment. Check out Saint Sister, Wyvern Lingo, Ex – Magician, All Tvvins. There’s loads of new Irish music, it’s a great time to be part of the scene.

Mt.Wolf // Live Review // Secret Sessions January 2016

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

Hilang Child

You know those moments to be truly special when all becomes otherworldly. As the layers developed we found ourselves, by the end of the evening, blanketed by an ethereal sonic wall. London based three-piece, Hilang Child, gave us beautiful insulation as support, with echoed dreamy vocals reaching the far crevices of the room. Whilst the electronic accompaniment of the synths and bass guitar enhanced Ed’s expansive vocals that were slight reminiscent of Amber Run.

As the crowds gathered, we thought ourselves prepared for headliners Mt Wolfbut we perhaps didn’t quite expect to be overwhelmed by the enchanting voice of frontman, Bassi. A London based trio of four years, recently undergone a change vocally, though I never knew of them then, having listened to their Soundcloud I feel this new arrangement has no doubt accentuated their sound, and is vocally pleasing to fans of Bon Iver.

It has been a while since I’ve seen two acts create such an expansive, close and polished sequence live. What a way to commence Secret Sessions 2016. The night felt like a careful curation of two bands that complemented each other beautifully as a simultaneous set.

Mt. Wolf gave us a set-list that provided an almost filmic scape where each track married one another effortlessly, a backdrop of which distanced us and ultimately gave us the opportunity to escape to our own world. It was that otherworldliness created through delicate falsetto vocals that was majestic accompaniment to the part electronic part acoustic style.

There was such a wonderful connection within the band, you could see how each of them spoke to one another through their instruments. I was taken on a reflective journey, a thought provoking experience. Though what was communicated lyrically didn’t seem to control my trail of thoughts, it was the movements of the ambience that could take you away to a world of your own, someplace remote. I could hear the lapping of the not so distant waves, and feel the coarseness of the high-grass and heather around me.

Even when the noise of the crowds started up I found myself still far away, distanced and transported elsewhere to this place altogether calming, mediative, and all the while poignant. I think by the end of the night we all felt moved. If ever you needed music therapy for the mind, this is the band to provide you with such serenity. These would be a treasure to have in session for Lauren Laverne’s BBC Radio 6 Music show, not least be shared with us listeners for an otherworldly ‘headphones moment’.

(Mt.Wolf, Secret Sessions 19/01/16)

Written by Rachael Crabtree for Secret Sessions

Roo Panes // Secret Sessions // November 2015


“It’s upstairs……on level three…”.

….We took a quick right out of the lift, already late and stepping into a bar where a large gathering stood. Excusing our ridiculously hurried passing, I caught only a glimpse of the man that stood aside. It was his shoes that I later connected to the man who took to the stage. Despite being late, to much delight, we had missed nothing.

Perhaps we were alone in thinking the Folk-Rock Aussies, Boy and Bear, were the only act of the night, so when the host introduced us to a first act; a singer-songwriter with hopes and dreams and a guitar strapped to his back, the not so ‘Secret Session’ gig took a very interesting turn for us.

A very unassuming, humble chap, Roo Panes treated us to a solo performance, which displayed his strength of voice. Beguiling romantic poetry was delivered to a room of a silent and awed audience. “Thank you for being so quiet” Roo addressed us softly, “no, truly, it’s really lovely”.

It really makes it when the audience are attentive, but it must in no doubt accentuate the pressure, especially when there is no band to be lost to. Although we could all see how natural the songs were suited to an solo-acoustic setting. In character, charismatic, and musically, a pensive wordsmith with a real mythological warmth about him, and wholly deserving of a longer set.

When listening to his music you will discover that you cannot help but find yourself studying the beauty in even the very simplest and smallest of things, at the point of performing ‘Indigo Home’ I remember noticing the indigo lights from above paying his complements. There was an earthy connection in between songs, when introducing ‘Ran Before the Storm’, we were told that it was when he “was in a really bad mood.. and went on a very long walk up the hill..during a storm…but there’s some metaphors in there as well”.

Roo drew to a close with his new single: ‘The Original’ which was a beautiful insight into what to expect from upcoming album ‘Paperweights’, released on February 12th 2016.

I may be late to discover Roo Panes, but, as the night revealed, it is better to be late than never.

Words by Rachael Crabtree

Image; ‘Paperweights’ album artwork by Illustrator, Lucy Panes