It was back in early 2017 when on a random visit to the popular acoustic music night that takes place in Bruxelles Bar in Dublin, The Zodiac Sessions, when I first came across the music of Niamh Dooley. The Tullamore singer was one of the standout performers across the night, with her outstanding vocals and blues style guitar pieces.
Dooley has been no stranger to the Irish music scene for the last few years, and can regularly be seen to play cover shows around Dublin and her native Offaly, and performing vocals for Irish drum-and-bass act, WOB!. This experience has helped the talented songwriter to develop her own sound and confidence in her own music.
Dooley now performs under the title of Dubh Lee and the singer/songwriter has recently released her debut single as a solo artist, and it stands out as a remarkably accomplished introduction to the Offaly singer/songwriter.
Virtue is an accomplished and delightful debut from the talented songwriter as we are treated to a story that many people will be able to relate to – the story about an absent lover. Being in a relationship with someone can often lead to a problem of fully understanding who you are as it can often become easy to lose sight of yourself as an individual. As I was listening to the track by Dubh Lee, and watching the excellent accompanying music video (directed by Declan Dooley, and slot in the Slieve Bloom mountains), I recognised a sense that Dooley might be addressing this idea of losing part of yourself to the devotion of someone else.
The song also looks at the idea of watching a romantic interest from a distance and losing out on other experiences while you are distracted by someone else. Again, this is something that people will be able to relate to as it can sometimes be easy to close yourselves off to potential romantic interests when we are obsessing over someone from a distance.
“I don’t need to ask where you have been
I know you’re stuck somewhere between
So I’ll love you through a screen”
The instrumentation across the track also helps to delightfully paint an almost melancholic outlook at the story being told by Niamh Dooley. The song is driven by delicate guitar and piano riffs, and expertly manages to mix the happiness that comes with the positive thoughts around a romantic interest with the psychological damage that obsessing over someone who’s not interested can do to you. Expert musicianship.
It will be very interesting to watch as Dooley’s career continues to develop in the coming years.
Dubh Lee plays The Ruby Sessions next Tuesday (6 August 2019).