Photo credit: Shane Horan
I often wonder the extent to which our geographical surroundings as we are growing up contributes to our ability to be creative. Do people who find themselves in beautiful and unique parts of the world have a greater aptitude for artistic and musical expression? A part of Ireland that seems to have an ability to create talented artists and creative people is the beautiful and secluded area of West Cork, and one of these figures is the singer/songwriter Midé Houlihan.
Houlihan released her debut album in 2015, and ever since then she has been building a reputation in Irish music circles for her honest and raw lyrics and sophisticated and interesting instrumentation. The album, Coloured In, was an extremely accomplished collection of twelve tracks that showcased the sound that the Cork songwriter was going for.
The album marked her out amongst Irish music journalists as one of the top rising stars in Irish folk music, and since it’s release she has been further cultivating her sound and the culmination has come in the new EP by the artist, Shifting Gears.
A Long and Awkward Day
The EP opens with the track A Long and Awkward Day, and the first thing that strikes you about this track is the elaborate and unconventional instrumentation and soundscape that Houlihan is creating. The unusual nature of the instrumentation seems to act as a metaphor for the confusion that we all can feel on difficult days, and the lyrics further help to reinforce this feeling. This is a song for those confusing days.
The second song on the album is the title track. Shifting Gear is a wonderful exploration into an unfulfilling relationship and how very often the two people in a relationship can have contrasting views on how it’s playing out. Across the track Houlihan demonstrates her lyrical ability as she expertly cultivates the story behind the song.
Half Of This Light
The third track on the EP again demonstrates the ability of the Cork performer to create elaborate and interesting stories through her music. Many listeners will be able to deeply relate to what is being expressed by Houlihan as she outlines that sometimes it’s when you’ve shut yourself off to the idea of a relationship that it comes along and changes your life for the better.
The EP ends with Midé Houlihan slowing the pace down drastically and turning to a more simplistic instrumentation to get across the heavy feelings that come with seeing a previous romantic partner move ahead with someone else. This is something that everyone will probably have experienced at some stage in their lives and it is done with a consideration that is extremely impressive. The song accurately captures the feelings of isolation, helplessness, and even bitterness, that come with this period, and leave the listener in no doubt regarding the ability of Houlihan for songwriting.
We can’t wait to here what comes next.