Irish singer-songwriter Ciaran Lavery may have been soft-spoken when we interviewed him on camera, but off camera, he felt like an old dear friend. He had me step in front of his iPhone lens to introduce myself as Ciaran to all of his Instagram followers - what a sense of humor - and additionally, he spent the next ten minutes after that writing down short story recommendations for the staff. Simply put, Lavery is a sweet guy, and when he stopped by the Baeble Studio, he brought some equally sweet tunes.
Starting off with "Morning Bell," Lavery's low down croon was accompanied by a warm acoustic guitar and spine-tingling harmonies. He played "Left For America," perhaps the catchiest song of the session, off his 2014 EP, Kosher. He also teased his upcoming album Sweet Decay with performances of "13" and "To Chicago." Sure, you could compare Lavery to other Irish acoustic legends like Glen Hansard or Damien Rice, but there's something about his soothing guitar and smooth-as-syrup harmonies that, when all wrapped up together, feel like one big hug.
"There are some things that are difficult to talk about... I think that's what it is to be an artist. You kind of have to go to uncomfortable places to get the best out of yourself," Lavery acknowledged his dark storytelling. He may sing about things that others would be afraid to talk about, but he brings a strange comfort with the dark subject matter. Maybe it's knowing that there's someone out there thinking the same things, or maybe it's the delicate sonics. Whatever it may be, Lavery's music, though equipped with lyrical baggage, feels like a dear old friend.
Do you ever feel like Jesus Christ? 'Cause you're holding yourself like you're bound to leave this life. I feel like a motor car with nowhere to go Time is just a cigarette and my life is smoke Yesterday has come and gone Yet it clings to my skin like a memory or song I was just a-passing through now I'm here to stay Lead me down the garden path, I am destined to stray And my heart is a hurricane And my hands don't feel the same way And time moves slow today And my love and I can wait I've been all over your town And I've been through your gate, I have heard all the mighty sounds Careful goes a dreamer with her head in the sky Busy little fever right between your eyes And my heart is a hurricane And my hands don't feel the same way And time moves slow today And my love and I can wait From the lights of the evening to the books on your shelf I've wanted you for so long. And I cried in every doorway and empty hall Waiting for the morning bell just to raise my eyes Come to me easy now, I'm a broken prize And my heart is a hurricane. And my hands don't feel the same way And time moves slow today And my love and I can wait And my heart is a hurricane And my hands don't feel the same way And time moves slow today And my love and I can wait You know, with the record with Sweet Decay, I was really trying to develop myself and challenge myself lyrically and not... I didn't want to have a filter. You know, I didn't want anything to be off the record, so at some point in the recording process, I made a decision that I was kind of just free write and whatever came out, whether I was comfortable with it or whether it embarrassed me, I didn't really care, you know. I just thought I wanted to make an honest record, so this is something that I've, kind of, been working on. Hey now, if you ever go Leave me a trail to Chicago Some of the record and some of the songs, kind of, deal with pretty dark topics and, not in a way that it's self-depricating and more that I'm happy to explore that. And it's kind of almost a celebration of the fact that I can, you know, I can shine a light on these things and say, "Yes, they exist. " I'll love you, baby, 'til the parking ticket runs out 'Til the lights in the street are as bright as the stars And you can't work out which way is 'round When you buttoned my shirt and fastened my tie I can run 'round the earth 'til the well runs dry I will never get the feeling like the look in your eye That's all Hey now, if you ever go Leave me a trail to Chicago Show you my colors like a second-day bruise And I glow like a coin under a dead dog moon Anytime that I'm alone with you My blood is wicked and my heart is wild But I come to you every time like a child Won't you take my hand just one more time? That's all Hey now, if you ever go Leave me a trail to Chicago So much talk it's lost under the weight of my heels And the days stretch out over the seeds and the steel And awake like you put me up there on the cross And I spit white foam for your name Come wrap me up in a blanket of dirt And return my body back down in the earth I have worn every needle on the same record Tell my friend not to fall behind. Tell the man in the street who waits in line To get that love you gotta give your time that's all Hey now, if you ever go leave me a trail to Chicago Hey now, if you ever go leave me a trail to Chicago As a singer songwriter, I guess you work with session players, and people drop in and out for a few days. But it's not like recording unless you do it with a band where everyone is together and there's a certain amount of camaraderie, and you get that time to kind of bounce ideas off people or even change things because most of the time, it was just me and the producer. This was a different kind of setup because we were able to hold on to the players so that it became more of a band album. And I always wanted that. You know, less about myself at the very forefront and everyone else just trying to complement and play tiny small things. Okkervil River on the radio, you never heard them before I'm very, very lucky to have players like that, and they're both multi-intstrumentalist, so it means I can sit back and kind of let them do the heavy lifting. And you know, if I make mistakes as well, then I got no else to blame. But when I got these two boys, then I can at least blame one of them as well so that's fun. They're playing 'Let's Dance' in some old cafe In this room, in this room, in this room And the night's but a cheap cabaret To the moon, oh the moon, oh the moon There's fools holding hands in the park and in the underground. Things go unsaid in the dark and resonate around First you wanna run and hide Then you wanna play the game Love is like a suicide Hearts are like two passing trains But I'm hopeful and willing Ripe for the killing Honest to God, listen true I could be a grave mistake If you'd let met through There's a half-empty glass in the sink I'm all right, she's all right, we're all right It's a scene like a robbery Pay no mind, pay no mind, pay no mind Is it hard to relate anymore? We're always changing shape Everyone's out making war or love or taking aim First you wanna run and hide Then you wanna play the game Love is like a suicide Hearts are like two passing trains But I'm hopeful and willing Ripe for the killing Honest to God, listen true I could be a grave mistake If you'd let me through First you wanna run and hide Then you wanna play the game Love is like a suicide Hearts are like two passing trains But I'm hopeful and willing Ripe for the killing Honest to God, listen true I could be a grave mistake If you'd let me through And with that the season draws a close It's always quite strange to read back or look at lyrics that are a bit difficult, but I made myself the promise that that's what I was going to do, I was going to write about the difficult things if that's what it is. And even if there are elements of that I don't like about myself, then, you know, I can't change that. I would rather just have taken the mask off and thought, you know, this is what I do and this is how I am. Oh, everything ravaged But yeah, it is... I mean, there are some things that are difficult to talk about and there are some things that are difficult to sing. I think that's what it is to be an artist, you know that you kind of have to go to uncomfortable places to be able to get the best out of yourself. Lay me on my back a little And put my hat on my head 'Cause I want to sleep out with the stars. Not in the dark with the dead When I'm ready I'll give you the sign You can gather me up like a quilt Tell my mother I tried, I tell my cousin I lied I was holding your hand out of guilt They never paid my way, I bought it I never stole your heart, I sought it I never knew my place anyway They never paid my way, I bought it I never stole your heart, I sought it I never knew my place anyway You cover me up with a thousand whispers You shuffle me into the night Whistle and hum to the traffic rum Calling us closer to the edge of the light Tell me tales that win my faith and be my champion of dreams I don't want to forget the day I left for America and things came apart at the seams They never paid my way, I bought it I never stole your heart, I sought it I never knew my place anyway They never paid my way, I bought it I never stole your heart, I sought it I never knew my place anyway Ooooooh Ooooooh They never paid my way, I bought it I never stole your heart, I sought it I never knew my place anyway They never paid my way, I bought it I never stole your heart, I sought it I never knew my place anyway Ooooooh Three of the songs that we played today are from the new record, completely different arrangements as well, which is always fun. I always enjoy that side of playing live and recording and not, you know, you've got that freedom to develop the songs in a different way depending on the room or depending on the type of musicians that I have with me at my disposal, so I think in the order, I think we played, "To Chicago," "Morning Bell," "13," and then a song called "Left for America," which I released a few years back on an EP whenever I was just lowly and self-funded. They never paid my way, I bought it I never stole your heart, I sought it I never knew my place anyway Well, the next thing is going to be the album release. So April 13th, we hit the ground running and Belfast and we have a whole month-long tour through Ireland. But this is kind of the...it starts to become the fun part because, finally, after working in somewhere, you know, in isolation and only a handful of people getting to hear things, you finally get to present it, you know, in front of people. And you know, I've always kind of found that important with music, and especially with albums that they exist as one certain thing in my head, it doesn't really matter, because once someone else hears it, that's where an album really comes alive. So that's where I think the joy in music is. It exists in the fact that you get to share it with other people and they can take it or, you know, can act with it in some way. Hi. I'm Ciaran Laverey, and you are watching Baeble Music.
He may wield an acoustic guitar and write achingly beautiful universal truths, but Ciaran Lavery couldnt be further from the sensitive singer-songwriter archetype.
I love you baby 'till the parking ticket runs out, sings Ciaran Lavery. Until the lights in the street are as bright as the stars ...
The award-winning singer-songwriter from Aghagallon in County Antrim, Ireland may be decorated at home by the Northern Ireland Music Prize (for his 2016 album 'Let Bad In') and might have totted up over 80 million streams on Spotify during his five year solo career, but it's the unrivalled knack he has for a poetic heart-stopping lyric that's set to earn him wider recognition as a treasured singer-songwriter.