Lisa O’Neill’s first appearance at An Grianán was alongside David Gray back in December 2013 and now she’s back in Letterkenny for a headline slot on Sat 26 July as part of this year’s Earagail Arts Festival.
It’s been an incredible year for Cavan’s Lisa O’Neill. With a new album, Same Cloth or Not, she won over fans and critics alike. Her rich folk voice, melancholic melodies and brilliant lyrical wit marked her as a genuinely unique Irish artist.
Her live shows became much talked about affairs with her having the audience welling up one moment, and in stitches the next. In the past year, she has toured Ireland and mainland Europe with Glen Hansard, supported David Gray on his Irish tour and James Yorkston on his UK tour.
A native of Ballyhaise, Co Cavan, Lisa started writing songs and music at an early age. She moved to Dublin, aged 18, to study music on a full time basis. Early on she was welcomed into the folk and traditional scene in pubs and venues around the city where her singular voice, witty lyrics and observations on modern Irish life gained her popularity and set her apart as a unique talent.
Her independently released debut album, aptly titled Has an Album, was launched in August 2009 and sold out throughout the country displaying her popularity not just in Dublin but nationwide.
Her second album Same Cloth Or Not, came into the world on Song Seeds Records in October 2013. The album was recorded in a beautiful rented cottage in Wicklow in the winter months with David Kitt producing and Karl Oldum engineering and includes in her band Stina Sandstrom (vocals) and Mossy Nolan (bouzouki) and some wonderful interventions from London-based string duo Geese (Emma Smith & Vincent Sipprell).
This new record captures Lisa as an assured songwriter, as comfortable with lyrical pathos as she is comic turn of phrase. At times she is downright poetic, switching mood from forlorn love songs to shady tales of wheelbarrow smuggling. Her voice is a unique instrument in itself, subtle enough to execute the tender reminiscence of a song like Speed Boat but powerful enough to bring the house down on the rousing call-to-arms chorus on Come Sit Sing.
Anyone who has already seen her play at Body & Soul or the Electric Picnic or an impromptu sessúin somewhere or other will testify that Lisa’s live performance are beguiling affairs full of banter and old-style folk intimacy.
Support act on the night is fast rising local star Rosie Carney, an exceptionally talented 16 year old singer/songwriter who is quickly attracting outstanding reviews and support. Living in Downings Co Donegal, but originally from Hampshire, UK, she has written and performed over 20 of her own songs.
Rosie’s musical gifts can clearly be seen in her singing, songwriting and ability to play both the piano and guitar. She has performed in a number of venues in Belfast, Dublin, Letterkenny, London, New York and Los Angeles. She was also featured in the opening episode of the most recent series of Other Voices. Praised by many, this young girl is definitely a unique worldclass talent with a huge future ahead. She is currently dividing her between Donegal, the UK and LA while she works on new songs.