On 15 February 2018, Maria Kelly and Ailbhe Reddy finally released the song that they had been working on for the previous few months. As two of the most respected songwriters on the Irish music scene at present, the track was greeted with a great deal of anticipation, and it did not disappoint.
Threads will go down as one of the best releases by any Irish musicians this year, and one of my favourite songs of 2018. A truly heartbreaking exploration of a failing relationship, it exhibits all the hallmarks that we had come to expect from tracks by the duo.
The song opens with a beautifully constructed electric guitar riff before we are treated to heartbreaking opening verse sang by Kelly with a fragility and vulnerability that is utterly compelling from the first word. We are made explicitly aware of the relationship that we’re being shown, the breakdown of trust between the two parties, along with the one-sided nature of the relationship where one side cares and the other does not. The song sees Kelly and Reddy share lead vocals across the different verses and this effect gives a sense that we are seeing multiple perspectives and angles within the failing relationship.
“You can see how hard I try, how can you be so indifferent..?”
The chorus sees Kelly’s vocals being joined by Reddy to talk about the difficult conversation that every relationship has to have as it’s nearing it’s end. The two performers have voices that were made for each other as they weave together effortlessly here to create the sense of unease and confusion that is often present in this kind of situation. Some of the most powerful imagery in the song is found in the chorus, from the pleading of one side to get the situation clarified, to the nervousness of the other.
“I see you tugging the threads on your sleeve”
Musically, this song is an absolute triumph. Both performers have an obvious talent for creating sonic landscapes that perfectly replicate the sentiment and feel of their songs, and this is again apparent here. The steady guitar through out the song is withdrawn and kept in the background as if to represent the issue that neither party wants to actually address. The main instrumentation is later joined by a beautiful strings interlude which adds to the ever building emotion towards the end of the piece.
Threads is what happens when two songwriters who have an intrinsic and effortless understanding of each other’s musical ideologies come together with a similar goal. A truly heartbreaking piece of music, there is an honesty and a rawness to the sentiments and lyrics across the track that draws the listener in, and the prospects of more collaborations between Maria Kelly and Ailbhe Reddy is something that I am very hopeful of.