First Published August 2022
LARISSA LAUNCHES 5th ALBUM WITH DUBLIN SHOW AND NEW SINGLE
Singer/songwriter LARISSA TORMEY is set to release her 5th studio album next month. The multi-talented, genre-crossing artist from Kilbeggan will reveal the eponymously titled LARISSA with a listening-party launch night at the Bewley’s Cafe Theatre in Dublin on September 8th.
That evening will also feature an exclusive ‘live’ acoustic performance of a selection of songs from her new long-player, with Larissa being joined by musicians Kevin Whyms on guitar and by Padraig Kilbride on piano. Describing this collection – which was mastered by Nick Burchall of Audio Animals in London – as “the ultimate me”, Larissa is excited about sharing more of her original material.
“Both as a musician and as a music-lover, my heart goes in so many different directions, and always has done. As people know, country music has become a huge part of my life since making Ireland my home, but I also adore pop, and I love gospel, the freedom of jazz, and the emotional depth of the blues. And I am a trained classical singer, of course. So this album, more than any other record of mine, shows or hints at almost all of those sides of me. That’s why – when we were trying to think about what we should call it – it suddenly became clear that because it was literally more me than me than anything else I’ve done before, it should just be called after me too…’LARISSA’…nice and simple!”
Preceding the album’s official release on all platforms on September 9th, Larissa will share one of the record’s stand-out moments, a song called DOLCE FAR NIENTE on August 26th. An idea born in Italy, and brought to life through a United States and Norwegian collaboration, Dolce Far Niente is the perfect illustration of what is a unique international aspect to Larissa’s music.
“I got this idea while on holiday in Italy”, she recalls, recalling the moment the idea for the song first came to her. “I was sitting at the table staring at the beautiful sea when a gentleman next to me who was also admiring the view and enjoying the sense of peace told me that in Italy they call this state of mind ‘Dolce Far Niente’, which means ‘sweet nothing to do.’ Straight away the artist in me fell in love with this idea, and even the sound of those words. As I sat there, it got me thinking about how much we all miss this in our busy lives, so I decided to write a song about it.”
Some time after this Larissa was interviewing the Norwegian producer Frolin for her show, My Music and My Story. Frolin, who writes and produces instrumental meditative music, told Larissa that he regularly writes songs with two writers from the United States, Randy Morrison and Lindsay Siddal, and he invited Larissa to join their team.
“I shared my idea with them”, recounted Larissa, “and this beautiful song was born a few months afterwards.”
For this album, Larissa and her producer Kevin Whyms recorded a new version of the song, one arranged to better fit the overall ‘feel’ of this set of songs.
A limited number of tickets are available to the public for next month’s album launch listening-party, with those lucky enough to find themselves planning their trip to Dublin also getting their hands on a signed copy of Larissa’s new album at the same time. Tickets can be purchased from Larissa’s official website – www.larissatormey.com – or by going to www.eventbrite.ie and searching ‘Larissa Tormey’.
Back in July, Larissa, based in Kilbeggan since making Ireland her home some twenty-odd years ago, announced the then upcoming release of her take on Scottish singer/songwriter Eddi Reader‘s heartbreaking MACUSHLA (MY DARLING). Already an established name on the Irish country scene, Larissa wanted to share her version of this song from Reader’s 2014 Vagabond album, ahead of her own long-player launch of all original contemporary material in September.
However, as it turned out, Macushla (My Darling) actually isn’t a Reader song at all, as Larissa explains…
“We contacted Eddi Reader’s management ahead of the release because we needed to apply for what’s known as a mechanical license for covering the song. So we wanted to make sure that we had all of the relevant information correct. And that’s when we were told that it wasn’t actually Eddi Reader’s song at all, merely her take on a song that has been around for a long, long time.”
The somewhat mysterious matter of the song’s origin, however, in no way takes from its beauty as a work of art. And as well as simply falling in love with the beauty of the song itself, Larissa also had a much more personal reason for why the Americana, country, and folk flavoured Macushla (My Darling) has come to hold so dear a place in her heart.
“I was asked to record this song by a very special friend of mine, in dedication to his wife, you see”, Larissa explains. “At first, I thought it was the Irish song ‘Macushla’, which has been recorded by the great Irish tenors like John McCormack, Josef Locke, and Frank Patterson. I’ve heard this song, of course, many, many times since coming to live in Ireland. It has so much emotion in every line. It could be poetry. But it wasn’t this song at all, but Eddie Reader’s song – or so I thought [laughs] – of almost the same name. And after listening to her song for the first time, it had my heart too!”
Larissa explained how a booking for a house-concert led to the friendship that eventually brought the request for her to record Macushla (My Darling)…
“The concert was at Christmas some years back, for this gentleman who I had never met before, but he knew my music and loved my voice. So he got in touch and asked me if I would come and sing for him and his wife and some of their family and friends. I did, we had a wonderful evening, and we kind of stayed in touch after that. ‘Macushla (My Darling)’ is a song that this man’s wife used to sing to him, replacing the names of the characters Joe and Meg in the song for their own. So in many ways, this was their song, you could say. Sadly, about three years ago, his wife became very sick and passed away. Because ‘Macushla’ holds such sentimental memories for him, he asked me if I would consider recording a version of it for them, using his name and his late wife’s name, the same way she used to when she sang it to him. Of course I said yes. As you can imagine, this song is something that really means a lot to him now. I’m so glad that Eddie Reader recorded such a beautiful song in the first place, it was a big part of this couple’s love story. And I’m also happy to know that my recording of it can bring a little comfort to this man now, and help ease his grief even just a little bit every now and then.”
Larissa was so moved by the experience of recording that special version of Macushla (My Darling), that she knew it was a song she wanted to share with the world too, and incorporate into her own set-list. So, she also recorded a version with the original characters, Joe and Meg, which was released on July 15th.
“The version I did for my friends was especially for them. This version is for the world to hopefully enjoy, but I want to dedicate it to my friends also”, said Larissa.
In what looks like being a busy second half of 2022 for Larissa, with her album launch only weeks away and a Christmas project in the works, she has also announced that she will be joining the great Irish songwriter P.J. MURRIHY as a special guest at his Tuar Ard concert on Saturday, September 3rd.
“P.J. is a farmer, like my husband, and a songwriter, like me!”, declares Larissa, adding, “And I think that’s why we get on so well! We met at a music event and spent most of the night talking about cattle! [Laughs]. That night was enough for us to decide to record a duet together, which we did, releasing that lovely Irish song ‘I Wish I Had Someone To Love Me’ last April. P.J. was also one of the performers at my ‘Voices For Peace’ concert in April. When he asked me to join him for his own show with Seamus Shannon, I was delighted to say yes.”
The Voices For Peace concert which Larissa referred to saw a star-packed line-up of country music artists join the singer/songwriter for a sold-out fundraising concert in aid of Ukraine, raising almost €3,000 for the Irish Red Cross and their work relating to the war-torn country.
“I knew that anything we might be able to do would only be small compared to what’s needed right now”, recalledLarissa, looking back on the concert. “But because of the scale of what was happening at the time”, she continued, “I also knew that I had to do something to try and help, and as soon as we could. So I also knew that whatever funds we could raise would definitely do some good. And I’m so grateful to every single person who lent their support to the success of the night in any way.”
The Voices For Peace concert was hosted by the Tuar Ard Arts Centre in Moate on April 14th, and as well as a line-up of top entertainers including Eurovision legend Charlie McGettigan, saw Eddie Rowley of the Sunday World in the role of MC. The event also featured a stunning backdrop of blue and yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag, created by Midlands based events planner LiaQbell who recently decorated Dublin’s Mansion House for the Team Ireland Olympic Ball. The presence of the backdrop became all the more poignant when close on forty Ukrainians who are now living in Tullamore arrived as the night’s special guests.
And on a night where love was the theme, and peace the rallying-call, there were several more emotional moments. One of the most captivating came with the first performance of the night as a wonderfully talented Ukrainian family from Athlone – the Selve family, mother Kateryna, and her children Athenias, Ariane-Eugenie, and Aristide – in traditional Ukrainian dress, performed one of their country’s most-loved folk songs. Larissa then joined the family on-stage to perform Blackthorn Is In Blossom. At the evening’s end, several of the night’s guests from Ukraine made their way to Larissa to show their appreciation with hugs.
For Larissa, it was a night that proved music, love, and peace are what will always unite the world…
“So many helped to make our ‘Voices For Peace’ concert possible, and a success, and it was such a positive and powerful experience. I was so happy that some of our friends from Ukraine were able to join us and see how much we care, and how much we all want to see peace return to their country and to their lives. Music will always be a source of love in this world.”
Joining Larissa and Charlie McGettigan on that evening’s bill were Glór Tíre 2022 winner Aishling Rafferty, Glór Tíre 2020 finalist Alex Roe, and Glór Tíre judge Caitriona O’ Sullivan, plus crooner great Dave Lawlor with Ger O’ Brien, and Larissa’s duet partner on her single, I Wish I Had Someone To Love Me, P.J. Murrihy. Nolan Sound were the event’s sound and lighting partners.
As Larissa now prepares for the Dublin listening-party launch of her new album, she also hinted at the possibility of a return to the Tuar Ard to share the music from her Larissa collection.
“I’m very excited to be a special guest with my dear friend P.J. at his Tuar Ard concert in early September, and I hope to be back there again for something that will also be very special towards the end of the year too. And after that, I think 2023 might be when I go to this gorgeous venue and sing something that isn’t country music for once, just for a little change! [Laughs]. I am always planning something, so we’ll see!”
~ The ALBUM LAUNCH LISTENING-PARTY for LARISSA, the brand NEW long-player from LARISSA TORMEY, takes place in Bewley’s Cafe Theatre on Grafton Street in Dublin on September 8th at 6pm (tickets are available NOW from www.larissatormey.com and/or www.eventbrite.ie).
LARISSA will be available on all platforms from September 9th, and is available to PRE-ADD/PRE-ORDER NOW. A brand NEW SINGLE – DOLCE FAR NIENTE – will precede the album on August 26th.