For many people, their first exposure to the Dublin singer/songwriter Laura Elizabeth Hughes would have come when they heard her name mentioned as one of the co-writers of the Irish Eurovision Song Contest entry this year. Together, performed by Ryan O’Shaughnessy and collaboratively written by O’Shaughnessy, Hughes, and Mark Caplice, would be one of Ireland’s best Eurovision performances in recent years finishing 16th in the final with a respectable total of 136 points.
But there is so much more to the career of Laura Elizabeth Hughes than Together.
Back in 2012 was when I first made aware of the singer/songwriter when a friend of mine recommended that I give her a listen, I was very impressed with what I heard. 2013 would seem to be the year that Hughes was beginning to make her impact on the Irish music scene with the fantastic Fear of Falling being followed closely by the beautiful self titled debut EP later that year.
However, just as things were seemingly taking off for Hughes, they stalled. For the following few years there would be very little new music from the performer except for a selection of excellent acoustic covers on her YouTube channel.
However in April 2018 we got good news…
The eagerly awaited EP would eventually reach us on 8 June 2018, and it would be well worth the wait. A wonderful collection of four expertly crafted songs that explore a difficult period in the life of Hughes. Ceremony is one of the most personal and heartfelt releases that you are likely to hear this year, and the fragility and honesty to the lyrics and instrumentation are endlessly compelling.
The EP opens with the aforementioned single The Dark is a powerful opening track. A touching and personal exploration of how it can feel to lose a sense of who you are and what you stand for. The imagery used across the track of darkness as having the ability to cloud your perception of different situation and create a sense of isolation is incredibly powerful and the sense of helplessness is expertly portrayed.
The follow up track, Straight for Tomorrow, is another powerful investigation into coming out of a period of struggle and attempting to demonstrate a sense of defiance. The song hears Hughes sing about the idea that regardless of the hard times there is always a way out. Despite the heavy subject matter, I choose to read this song as a song that espouses the strength of character that we all have even in the darkest times. Regardless of how bad today is, there is always a tomorrow.
Sophie is the standout track on this EP in my opinion. There’s shades of Laura Marling across the four minutes here as Hughes again demonstrates the sentiment that good often rises up from negative phases.
The closing track on the EP, Stay With You, is the perfect way to bring the collection of songs to a close. A lovely track about ending a phase of your life to move onto bigger and better things, it perfectly encapsulates everything that was being said by Hughes up to this point.
Ceremony is one of the most accomplished releases that you will hear from an Irish artist this year as Hughes has turned her own personal struggles into something beautiful.
“when you they say it takes time, clocks they deceive you…”