Sorcha Fahy, Sofia Stanley, Brí

First Published May 2021


Chances are that anyone who knows the music scene in the midlands will already be familiar with the name of SORCHA FAHY from various singer/songwriter nights. Well, the Tullamore native has now taken the next steps in further building her reputation at a national level too, with the release of her stunning debut single, No Sleep.

Sorcha first came to my attention, as she did many others, when she began showcasing her immaculately emotional interpretations of various songs via her social media platforms. These videos, usually as simple as a piano and vocal set-up, placed Sorcha’s vocal gift right at the centre of everything…and by everything, I mean the very heart of the listener.  

What I felt, others felt too. And following the strength of this online reaction, Sorcha began gigging her original material around Ireland, playing intimate sets supporting fellow musicians in venues like Whelans, the Grand Social, and The Vintage Rooms. Sorcha supported JJ Hannon at his debut Irish show in the Academy, Dublin , and has also made appearances at the Canal Quarter Festival and Riverfest.

Released on April 9th last, Sorcha describes No Sleep as being about, “…finding yourself in a cycle of bad habits and struggling to pull yourself out of them. This all leads to a place of anxiety and panic when you don’t keep the promises you make to yourself, leaving you feeling like control over your life is slipping away from you.”

In the works for over a year, No Sleep was originally in Sorcha’s diary for a March 2020 studio session, but that ended up being postponed until July due to the health restrictions around Covid.

No Sleep was eventually recorded at Darklands Audio recording studio in Dublin with Dan Doherty. “Dan’s great at guiding you through the process whilst delivering your vision for the track”, confirms Sorcha. “As well as producing the track, he laid down the drums and bass, and Kaitlyn Cullen- Verhauz performed the stunning cello on the track. I provided keys and vocals.”

To double the impact of this spectacular debut, Sorcha has also recorded a video to accompany the No Sleep, filmed on location in Whelan’s Parlour Room, directed by Gerard Walsh, and shot by David Christopher Lynch. According to Sorcha, “The video represents a repetitive cycle of events in a surreal setting but also captures the real and intense emotions that accompany that. The gradual build in the song, the intensity of the shots, the turning bottle, all mirror the image of a life spinning out of control and one that’s a victim of its own decisions.”

Sorcha recently performed an acoustic version of No Sleep on the RTE Today Show with Maura and Daithi.

Sligo’s LISA STANLEY was born into showbiz with both her parents being household names in their own right, the legendary Maisie McDaniel and the gifted Fintan Stanley. That showbiz gene has seen Lisa shape a successful career of her own over the years, with her weekly appearances hosting her own show – The Lisa Stanley Show – on Spotlight TV making her a very well-known face with fans across Ireland, the U.K., and beyond.

Lisa has toured extensively with the likes of Nathan Carter, Dominic Kirwan and The Phil Mack Country Music Tours, building up a fan base wholly appreciative of her four studio albums.

And the Stanley star will be shining bright for a third generation too, with the news that Lisa’s daughter, SOFIA, at only seventeen, has released a brand new single. Describing herself as a “passionate pop artist”, Why? showcases Sofia’s strong and confident vocals which have been causing fans and commentators alike to sit up and pay attention. Birmingham based Sofia actually joined Lisa’s band as a backing-vocalist, and would even perform some of her own songs during Lisa’s shows.

Despite her youth, Why? displays a maturity that bodes well for what we can expect to hear from Sofia in the years to come. The track touches on the silver-linings that can occur even through some of life’s more unfortunate events. Why? was inspired by an uncomfortable, awkward day at work, with the result that Sofia ended up putting pen to paper in order to get those feelings out of her system, doing so in just three hours. The combination of Sofia’s powerhouse voice and the sincerity of her lyrics create something that listeners of all ages will be able to relate to.

Why? is the follow-up to Sofia’s previous releases, last year’s Angel, and 2019’s Sweet, Sweet Smile, with the track incorporating a wide variety of styles and sounds fusing elements of rock, electro-pop and even soulful R&B. While it took ‘one of those days’ in work to finally bring the song to life, Sofia definitely has the songwriter’s knack of threading experiences together in order to weave the story she wants to tell.

Sofia explained, “I was able to look back on some of my most embarrassing moments, ones that simply wouldn’t give my mind peace, and draw on them for the sake of the song. Moments like calling your teacher ‘mum’, or committing a photobomb, to getting someone’s name wrong and wanting the ground to swallow you whole.”

Sofia recorded and produced the song herself in her home studio last October, using Logic Pro X on her laptop and voice memos on her iPhone.  Sound-wise, Sofia reveals that the song was inspired by a wide variety of different artists, ranging from Julia Michaels, to Ariana Grande, and with even a little pinch of Shania Twain in there, too.  

“I think”, continues Sofia, “that for anyone who has ever spent long stretches of the night re-living any social faux-pas or mortifyingly clumsy incidents from their past, ‘Why?’ will surely resonate!”

According to Offaly indie-pop princess BRÍ, her latest single More Than is, “about craving more than the situation you currently find yourself in. It’s a place where passion and emptiness meet, the point where two conflicting paths overlap and where all that is cloudy becomes clear.”

Fans who have been following Brí’s career to date will already have enjoyed her debut single Low Supply, it’s follow-up Polite, and most recently, Burying. On the back of the success of those releases, Brí sold-out her own headliner show in Whelan’s, earned high praise from a multitude of blogs and at radio, and was selected to perform at Beatvyne’s MusicX Tech Experience. 2020, despite all of its obvious difficulties, saw Brí performance at the esteemed Whelan’s Ones to Watch, the Ruby Sessions, headline in the Sound House, the Spirit Store, and festival line-up announcements such as Vantastival. 

With More Than, Brí expressed a determination not to let the chaos of the past year hold her back. Speaking about the process of the project, Brí said, “My original plans for the visuals fell through due to travel restrictions. After a lot of waiting for restrictions to lift, I decided to direct my own music video and my friend Constance Vance stepped in as my photographer, videographer, and stylist. We discovered that she had talent to burn! The photos and video were shot at Charleville Castle, Tullamore.”

Bri continued, “In this music video, I long for more than my current situation as I struggle to sit with the spinning wheel which, for me, symbolises that ‘groundhog day’ feeling. Watching this video back reminded me that my passion for songwriting could never have been discovered if there wasn’t firstly a struggle. The very action of writing a song to express this was my answer to feeling the passion and excitement in my life that I was craving. I love the simplicity of that.”

As well as fashioning up those homemade visuals, the vocals on More Than were also somewhat of a DIY affair, recorded in Brí’s bedroom due to restrictions. “Darragh Nolan, of Asta Kalapa studios in Wexford, built magic around it as usual,” revealed Brí, adding, “and my friend Aidan Mulloy lent his electric guitar skills once again. He also makes his debut bass performance on this track.”

~ All three tracks – NO SLEEP from SORCHA FAHY; WHY?  by SOFIA STANLEY; and MORE THAN from BRÍ – are OUT NOW, available on all platforms and to request from radio. The official music videos for all three songs can also be enjoyed on YouTube (Search Sorcha Fahy Music, Sofia Stanley Music, and BRÍ respectively).


Norman Borland


Press Release via AS Written, April 2021


As we hit the last stretch of road into the summer months, it’s not just the return of the sun as a welcome presence in our lives that will be keeping smiles on faces over the next few weeks. The added good news for country music fans is that NORMAN BORLAND is on his way back too, with his second single of 2021! AND…he has a very special guest lending his immaculate country-as-country-should-be vocals to the track.           Not only is AIN’T NO LITTLE THING the perfect tune to get your feet dancin’ towards brighter days in every way, it sees Norman tag-team with country star GERRY GUTHRIE to lead you all the way there. 
          From the pen of Oregon native John Bunzow, Ain’t No Little Thing has the kind of country credentials that will have connoisseurs of the genre rubbing their hands in excited anticipation of the single’s May 7th release. Taken from Bunzow’s Pete Anderson produced Stories of the Years collection (1995), Ain’t NoLittle Thing was also featured on the Where Love Goes compilation, alongside cuts from artists as eminent and revered as Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and Emmylou Harris. Bunzow himself has been described by multiple Grammy-winning producer Ray Kennedy (Steve Earle, Billy Joe Shaver) as being an artist who, “…destroys the boundaries between great rock, country, r ‘n’ b, and soul music by owning his noteworthy sound.” 
          Little wonder then, that Norman, known for his own love of the traditional, true country style of song and recording, knew this gem was one he wanted to put his own stamp on as soon as he heard it…
           “I’m constantly looking for songs that people might not have heard, or maybe not heard in a long while. I’m talkin’ ’bout the kind of songs that have that country sound that’s so undeniably ‘country’, it just changes your whole mood when you hear it. And let me tell you, this song falls right into that category. John Bunzow is such a fabulous writer. And you can tell by the quality of this song that it owes its existence to a man who has graced the Grand Ole Opry, and who has shared stages with people like Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Carl Perkins, and Trisha Yearwood. It’s a song that’s just begging to be part of a good time, and I think – and hope – that’s why fans will love it.” 
          Indeed, so convinced was Norman of the song’s feel-good factor, that he knew exactly what it needed to really highlight that quality…another voice. And there was one man in particular in Norman’s phonebook who he’d been waiting for an excuse to call…
          “No word of a lie, at the same time as I knew I definitely wanted to cut this song, I knew that I wanted to make it into something a little special by bringing another voice to the party, so to speak. And Gerry was the man that came to mind straight away for this one. There wasn’t even a list! That’s how sure I was that it was Gerry we needed on here. And I was delighted – honoured – when he said, sure, let’s do it. For my money, Gerry is one of the best country voices we’ve ever had. And trust me, for me to have him sing on this record, well that sure ain’t no little thing for me!” 

~ AIN’T NO LITTLE THING, the brand NEW single from NORMAN BORLAND, featuring GERRY GUTHRIE, will be available on all platforms from Friday, May 7th. 


Alex Roe


Press Release via AS Written, April 2021


Known more so for his catchy and fun songs, ALEX ROE is about to reveal a much softer side to his soul with the forthcoming release of his new single, I LOVED HER FIRST.           The midlands man has emerged as one of Irish country’s brightest new talents over the last few years, a trajectory that seemed certain to reach new heights in the summer of last year.  However, as we all know by now, the summer of 2020 was cancelled, and Alex’s career – to at least some extent – has slowed down to a speed he wasn’t expecting. And yet, that unexpected and unavoidable change in gear and circumstances may well have led the twenty-something year old from Clara in Offaly to explore songs that are more about the whisper of a heartbeat than the whirling of feet around a dancefloor. 
          “I was playing a lot of gigs before everything came to an end last year, and I’d been working to that same kind of a full diary for a good few years at that point. So you naturally tend to gravitate more towards the faster, more uptempo numbers that will keep people out on the floor. And the same applies when you think about what you’ll record. You want to entice people to come along to your shows because they like what they hear of you on the radio. Now, I’ve always had some slower songs in my set, the same as every artist would. But what’s happened during this break is that I’ve found myself turning more to songs like that when I’m just listening to music myself. And I suppose what I realised is that these songs – slower, more sentimental ones – they can connect with people just as easily. And that’s why I decided to record ‘I Loved Her First.'” 
          When it comes to tearjerkers, I Loved Her First is a song that shows no mercy when pulling on the heartstrings. Released by the American country band Heartland in the summer of 2006, it was both the title-track and the lead-off single from their debut album. Penned by songwriters Walt Aldridge and Elliott Park, I Loved Her First hit the top of the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart late in that same year. In the style of so many great country songs, what seems to begin as a straight-forward love song soon melts into a moment a little over three-and-a-half minutes long that has become a treasured and ever-lasting wedding day memory for countless fathers and daughters.  
          Roe first recorded a video of I Loved You First, which he debuted on his official Facebook music page back at the beginning of April. That video, recorded with Wayne Thorose at Ballyrose Studios, generated a reaction from fans that took the young country star by surprise…
          “Back when it had been safe to spend some time in a studio, we took the chance to put together a few things that we’d be able to use as the year went on. We didn’t know then how the rest of the year was going to turn out, so the plan was to have some content created for social media and that would help to keep things ticking over and make sure that I still had a way to reach out and connect with fans. But to be honest, the way this song has connected with people has been amazing. That very evening that I first posted it, I started getting messages from some radio presenters asking me to send them on the single, I couldn’t believe it. The first couple of times I explained that I’d just done a video for it and it wasn’t actually a single at all. But by the next morning, with more messages coming in all the time, I had changed my mind! [Laughs]. 
I gave Wayne a shout and said look, I think we actually have a single here!”          

Alex continued, “I’m just delighted that people are enjoying it so much. I actually had another single planned for around about now anyway, but given the response to ‘I Loved Her First’, we’ll just hold onto that one for another little while.” 

I LOVED HER FIRST, the brand NEW single from ALEX ROE, will be available on all platforms from Friday, April 30th. 


Larissa Tormey


Press Release via AS Written, April 2021


The latest release from singer/songwriter LARISSA TORMEY is sure to have fans and listeners thinking she’s ever so slightly mad…but in the best possible way! Larissa’s creative spark has been anything but diminished by the strangeness of the last year, and with 2021 only midway through its fourth month, Larissa, remarkably, is about to release her third single! That in itself sounds slightly mad, and so it should too, because that’s what her forthcoming single is also called. 

          SLIGHTLY MAD, which is scheduled for release across all platforms on April 17th, will be the latest installment from an album of original material that Larissa began work on last year. Highlighting the Russian-born and Kilbeggan based artist’s amazing versatility, Slightly Mad follows on from her single Black Cat – a funky, jazz infused number – which preceded it in 2020. Larissa, who has built up a loyal fanbase of Irish country music fans, is currently working on this album of original contemporary songs in parallel with her latest country projects, and she’s enjoying the back-and-forth between both. 

          “It keeps things interesting and exciting for me as a writer, that’s what I find. I have always believed that old saying, that there are only two kinds of music; good and bad! So what concerns me first of all and most of all, is writing a good song. But if I’m doing that for a new country album, I take a slightly different approach because I have to be aware of my audience and what they like and what I hope they will enjoy. Writing a song like ‘Slightly Mad’ can be more of an adventure, there’s a greater sense of freedom in how you can express yourself. So you can go slightly mad if you want to! [laughs].”

          Making sure that her fans won’t be left wanting for new music to enjoy, Slightly Mad will become her third single in almost as many months. Just last month the Jon Philibert penned One Man Band hit radio and music libraries across Ireland and the UK, and indeed beyond as well. Londoner Philibert is the man responsible for writing what became – and remains – Tom Jones’s longest ever country charting record, the beautifully titled, I’ve Been Rained On Too. The song became a top-ten for the Welsh legend in 1984, going on to hold a place on the Billboard Country chart for a staggering twenty-two weeks. Getting her musical year underway in February was the traditional country flavoured Agree To Disagree, a duet with the respected and prolific British country songwriter Dave Sheriff. The multi-instrumentalist performed at the famous Wembley Country Music Festival in the 1970s, and also worked with the American country legend Don Gibson, and toured with both Patsy Montana and Slim Whitman.

          In fact, Slightly Mad will actually be her fourth single of the year if you include Larissa’s involvement in the double number-one charity single Reach Out, which featured over eighty stars of Irish country music. With 2021 not yet having reached its halfway point, Larissa can also look back on two Hot Press Award nominations, one for Female Artist of the Year, and another for Best Songwriter. 

          Asked if she intends to keep this pace up for the remainder of the year, Larissa saw an opportunity to poke a little fun at herself, remarking, “Well, I’m slightly mad enough to try!” 

SLIGHTLY MAD, the brand NEW single from LARISSA TORMEY, another original from her own songbook and taken from her forthcoming long-player of contemporary songs, will be available on all platforms from April 17th. 


Cathy Jordan


Press Release via AS Written, April 2021


CATHY JORDAN has been the front-woman with traditional super group Dervish for nearly 30 years, and has dedicated her life to the nurturing and preservation of traditional music, and in particular, traditional songs. During her lifetime she has collected hundreds of these songs which otherwise might lay undiscovered and unsung, gathering dust in the archives.

          Her latest project – THE CRANKIE ISLAND SONGS – sees her collaborate with visual artist PETER CRANN in order to add yet another dimension to these beautiful gems. Any entwining of Cathy and Peter’s talents guarantees a project worth getting excited about. Cathy, after all, is one of Ireland’s most distinguished creative musical forces of any genre or era. And Peter is that ever so rare triple-threat of gentleman, artist, and craftsman in one, with a gift for evocative simplicity.

          This latest collaboration between the pair – named after a piece of vintage magic-making machinery, the memorably monikered CRANKIE BOX – bears all thehallmarks of both.

        The CRANKIE SONG PROJECT is an adventure that leads you into the realm of Irish history and mythology. It combines words, music and hand-drawn imagery to bring to life old Irish story-songs. This project will safeguard those songs, keeping the folklore behind them alive, while also presenting and preserving them for future generations in a way that is both authentic and newly evocative.

         In essence, a crankie box is exactly what it sounds like – a box which requires cranking in order to work, hence ‘crankie’ has become the term now most often used to name this very old art form. Originating in Europe in the late 18 th century, they were referred to as moving-panoramas during the 19th century. There were mid-sized moving-panoramas with scrolls around 18 inches in height. These were sometimes called ‘parlour panoramas’, and would have been used for smaller performances in the home or on the street.

          Amazingly, there were also larger moving-panoramas, ones of a size big enough to take up a whole stage, with scrolls 8 feet high or more, and hundreds of feet long. And in some cases, over a thousand feet long. Painted on canvas or muslin in the 19th century, it is believed that not more than 20 or so of these larger scrolls have survived to the present day.

          A crankie box is a simple mechanism that consists of two spools, upon which is wound an illustrated scroll, up to five metres in length. This is cranked by hand while the story is told, or a tune played. Or, as is the case with Cathy and Peter’s Crankie Song Project, while a song is sung, allowing a spool of images to play out in time with the music or song. A crankie box also acts as a kind of animation, and is the oldest form of movie-making. With what it may lack in sophistication, it more than makes up for in charm and immediacy. The cranking action is primitive, but what happens as it begins to work is a kind of magic that draws you deep into the unfolding story. The result is an intimate, almost dream-like form of storytelling, brought wonderfully to life in this project by Cathy and Peter.

          With these Crankie Island Songs, Cathy and Peter – with the support of the Arts Council of Ireland – have married their artistry, coming together to recount in sight and sound some of Ireland’s oldest story-songs via the portal of a custom-made crankie box. Nine of these videos are already available on YouTube (at Crankie Island Songs ) with more to follow.

          Crankie boxes are fashioned from up-cycled materials which are often found in charity shops. One of the boxes featured in this project was created from an old suitcase that once belonged to Cathy’s aunt, Eileen. In the skilled hands of Tony Travers, however, it has been turned into something new and wonderful, a way to bring to life old Irish tales in a way that is beautiful, elegant, and often heartbreaking and haunting.

          The latest song which Peter is working on illustrating will feature a scroll that comes in at seven metres in length. Also used in the project is an antique Spanish Cine Nic projector which allows a piece to include the added element of animation, a thrill which is particularly enjoyable on Eileen Óg (The Pride of Petravore). This project began by featuring three songs from Cathy’s native Roscommon; Eastersnowe, the beautiful unrequited love song Úna Bhán, and the above-mentioned Percy French classic Eileen Óg. The project also includes Pat O’ Brien, Fill A Rún Ó, and Deartháinín Ó Mo Chroí.

          Further counties have been featured since the project got underway, with a total of nine ‘crankies’ having been created to date. The long-term plan is that eventually songs from each county in Ireland will be available on an interactive map of the

          Crankie box performances can take place in any number of settings and as part of any number of occasions too. There is a ‘magic-lamp’ feeling to watching a crankie song come to life, with Cathy’s beautiful voice reaching all the way down into the pain and heartache of a millennia of souls, drawing you into the story as she sings, while Peter’s illustrations bring the song to visual life as they unspool before you.

          This project also includes beautiful musical collaborations with the likes of John Doyle, Mike McGoldrick, Nuala Kennedy, Claudia Schwab, Irene Buckley, Slow Moving Clouds, and Roger Tallroth.

The next song in the series – which is coming very soon – is one which is sure to raise a smile! And, as usual, all will be revealed on the Crankie Island Songs YouTube channel.

~ Subscribe to CRANKIE ISLAND SONGS on YouTube today, to experience the emotional power and pull of this storytelling genius for yourself.