Strange Days with Ciara O’Neill
There’s been a steady amount of hype building from those in the know in Northern Irish music circles about this debut EP from songwriter Ciara O’Neill. With the sleeve notes reading like a who’s who of the alternative-folk scene around Belfast including Malojian’s Joe McGurgan and Mike Mormecha making up the rhythm section and the dual talents of Conor and Donal Scullion on keys and electric guitars; it’s a beautifully subtle dip into the Northern Irish new folk sound.
O’Neill herself is no stranger to writing, recording and performing in studios and stages across the country and it shows. Her haunting, dreamlike vocals drape over the sturdily structured songs like the cobwebs adorning the tableware of Miss Havisham but unlike the book, the great expectations held for this record are met and surpassed.
The title track, ‘Primroses’ has been lurking in the undergrowth for a while and while her contemporaries have brought out several releases in that time, Ciara O’Neill has left this EP to bloom at it’s own pace, emerging from the dark almost like an oriental bloom. The colours and textures break out from the darkness of opener ‘Dead, Black’. It’s a stark atmospheric introduction to O’Neill’s world with it’s melodies that never quite soar and delicately played percussive instrumentation that never quite roars. It’s understated. It’s beautiful. It’s the Primrose.