Category Archives: Karrie

Today’s Top 5: As Brought to You by Karrie

In the first of what I hope to be an ongoing, occasional feature, I’m turning today’s Top 5 over to someone else – in this case, the Irish singer-songwriter Karrie, whose 2016 album Perpetual Motion I reviewed a few weeks back. She released the single, “I Don’t Hear You,” a few weeks back, too.

As detailed elsewhere, she got a late start in the music business, swapping horse training for singing after the economy tanked in 2009 -, though you wouldn’t know it from her music. (More on that here.) Job change aside, she still maintains her farm – and took time out of making hay (literally) to field my questions.

Did you sing around the home prior to transitioning to music? You have such a wonderful voice, I can’t imagine that you didn’t share it with, at the least, family and friends – and horses, for that matter. 

I come from a family of nine children. (I’m last in the line, the youngest.) Everyone can sing. When it’s not an unusual thing, it’s a given. We always sing at family get togethers. Having a big family puts you in line. My older sisters and brothers pretty much chose what music the younger ones heard. Joni Mitchell’s song “Carey” is on her 1971 album Blue; I was nicknamed after it.

I won’t ask your age, but it sounds like you were in your mid-30s when you shifted to music.

I was born in ’75 . That in mind, my influences were well embedded in my head by the time I wrote my very first song at 34, “Stay Away.” (It’s on my first album, Jelly Legged).

That first open-mic night – about how many people were in the audience? What song did you sing?

I don’t really like to recall my first gig . I think it was an ill chosen venue in Cork city. An open-mic night for rock music . Think I bombed!

About “I Don’t Hear You” – it’s such a wondrous piece. What inspired it? 

“I Don’t Hear You” is a song I wasn’t very careful about writing. Its content must be a delayed reaction to continuous pressures. Kinda like getting numb to something.

I hear what I imagine are several influences in it. The opening bass (as short as it is) reminds me of the opening to “Wichita Lineman,” for example, and the horns conjure the Style Council (my wife hears it, too, but we’re also Paul Weller fans; or she’s just saying so to humor me). Both add to my delight with the song. Were those nods intentional? Happy accidents?

I really love hearing about what people get from my music . This is funny because “Wichita Lineman” is right up there in my most favorite songs. An interesting note on this might be that I don’t write the instrumental music for my songs bar having some ideas here and there. I mostly write a cappella, probably 99% of the time. I do make sure my song is complete when I give it over to “wardrobe.” It’s a selfish thing I guess. Jimmy Smyth produced here. I don’t tell him how to play guitar.

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And, with the Q&A out of the way, here’s today’s Top 5: As Brought to You by Karrie. They are not (necessarily) her all-time favorites, just songs that she loves –

1) Joni Mitchell – “Carey.” My memory of it is I was very small  My sisters would pick me up  in their arms and dance with me singing along to Joni. Joni Mitchell influences me now in almost everything I write.

2) John Martyn & Danny Thompson – “Sweet Little Mystery” from Live In Dublin. John Martyn lived in Ireland. He was alive here and I didn’t I know how important his music would be to me. I was still training horses when I heard him first on the radio and thought this guy is out on his own. It very nearly made me turn from horses years before I did. I wish I had sought him out. I think It would have made a very big difference to my then poor decision making. It still bothers me that I ignored my own self wanting to go hear him live. Such a regret.

3) Elvis Costello – “Brilliant Mistake.” This song is like a movie. It’s perfect in every way.

4) Rickie Lee Jones – “Flying Cowboys.” This, along with its video, is also so perfect. (Unfortunately, the video isn’t on YouTube. But the song is…)

5) Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”

And one bonus…

6) Thom Moore & Midnight Well – “Soldier On.”

 

Today’s Top 5: YouTube Clips, Vol. 55

As I said over the weekend, there is so much good new music in the world that it can be hard to keep up – especially since finding said sounds means channeling one’s inner- Jim Rockford. Even so-called “good” radio stations (more on that in the coming weeks) do a lousy job of spotlighting new discoveries – unless it’s the latest generic alterna-rock band, that is.

To that end, here’s a collection of YouTube clips that shouldn’t be missed…

1) The Staves – “Blues Run the Game.” So the Staves played a forest the other day…

2) First Aid Kit – “Fireworks.” And FAK premiered a new song just in time for July 4th.

3) Courtney Marie Andrews – “Sea Town.” CMA, meanwhile, shared this clip that was filmed near the Boot & Saddle in South Philly last month. While I was searching for a parking spot before that show, I drove past her shooting this. I should’ve honked!

4) Natalie Duncan – “Get Right.” Here’s a relatively new song from one of my favorite voices of the past decade…

5) Karrie – “Performers.” And, finally, here’s a stunning track from Karrie that she didn’t include on her wonderful 2016 album Perpetual Motion. (More from Ms. O’Sullivan this weekend.)

And three bonuses…

6) Erin O’Dowd – “Jump the Gun Song.” Another of my favorite new voices.

7) Diane Birch – “Nothing Compares 2 U” & “When Doves Cry.” Here’s the Church of Birch pastor’s lovely tribute to Prince (from a February show in Berlin):

8) Paul Weller – “Soundtrack of My Life.” The Modfather reflects on songs that shaped his life in this NME video. Why do I feel old looking at him?

Karrie: Perpetual Motion – The Review

The news is brutal. Not just this morning, but most mornings. These days, it seems, someone, somewhere, is always scheming to commit terrible acts in furtherance of their aims, whatever they may be. It is not a new phenomenon. Zealotry has been with us since the dawn of time, and seems to ebb and flow according to an algorithm all its own.

Which is why, today, I smiled wide upon discovering that, at least in the U.S., the Irish singer-songwriter Karrie O’Sullivan’s 2016 album Perpetual Motion is available on Apple Music under the one-name moniker of Karrie. Music provides solace and escape from the concerns of the day like no other, of course. And wouldn’t you know it? The first line of the first song of the album opens with, “Sometimes it feels so strong that I’m going to break…”

That video features a stripped-down rendition of “This Time,” obviously, and the subject of the song isn’t about the worries of the world, but love. On album, the song’s gentleness is amplified, and grows from a trickle to a stream of flowing instruments and vocals.

In an email, Karrie noted that the album’s second track, “Trying to Be Honest,” has a Rickie Lee Jones-like vibe –

And, indeed, it does. So goes the album as a whole, with the occasional influences (Joni, Rickie Lee, Van Morrison, among others) in the grooves (or bytes) never overwhelming or distracting from the songs but, instead, acting as affectionate homages. And then a song like “Movie Show” flutters its opening reel…

…and you’re totally immersed in the flickering image being projected by the lyrics and melody. The same goes with the album’s title track:

From what I’ve read, Karrie turned to music as a second career after the 2008-09 recession caused a downturn in her horse-training business, which she’d pursued for 15-20 years. She picked up a guitar, wrote her first song and eventually released her first album, Jelly Legged, in 2011. (That debut is also on Apple Music, for what it’s worth.) But I’d wager that she’s had melodies, rhythms and rhymes bubbling in the back of her brain from a young age; she just had to tame and train them. Likewise, I’m sure, she had to do the same with her lilting and lovely voice, which has become more confident in the years since Jelly Legged.

The whys and wherefores of the wider world’s insanity – those are things that we have seen before, and unfortunately will deal with again. It is not worthy of panic. Rather, it’s best to move forward with a clear head and heart, deal with the problem straight-on – and seek occasional refuge in that which matters most to us: family, friends and, in my case, feline and song. Karrie O’Sullivan’s Perpetual Motion fills that last bill for today, and I’m sure it will tomorrow and next week. It’s a thing of aural beauty.