Aghagallon native Ciaran Lavery is about to embark on a summer of touring, playing a host of festival including Glastonbury.
He will also be closer to home at Stendhal Festival in Limavady in August before touring in Ireland later that month and in the UK in October.
Lavery has been mapping the diverse trajectory of the human heart since his debut album, Not Nearly Dark, in 2013. He writes the kind of universal truths about love, loss and redemption that resonate with people: lots of people. After all, more than fourteen million listeners on Spotify can’t be wrong. The song ‘Shame’ has had over 6 million plays alone, while ‘Left For America’, from last year’s critically lauded EP, Kosher, is at around 5 million and counting.
Lavery sings from the inside out in a voice that augments the candour of his words over predominantly acoustic templates channelling the sonic spirit of America. Think Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and, however incongruous the assimilation of influences, hip hop. Small wonder that Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody has used superlatives such as “stunning” and “magical” to describe him.
He cut his teeth in his teens on the local music scene as frontman of seven-piece alt-folk outfit Captain Kennedy.
“We had many great times and were lucky enough to meet a lot of great people and bands during our six-year trip,” Lavery recalls fondly.
When the band split up, he found the transition to solo artist, “a bit strange, but I’ve grown into it over time. It suits my introverted style as a person.”
Lavery credits Aghagallon with informing the approach to his craft.
“You could literally drive through it in thirty seconds, but it’s jam packed full of characters and real, genuine people,” he said. “It’s the type of place where, if you’re being an idiot, someone will tell you. That’s just how the environment was. I guess that sort of honesty comes out in my music.”
It’s an openness that Lavery himself finds therapeutic, not least because in revealing his inner emotions, he is concomitantly releasing them.
“Once I’ve let someone in to hear them, they aren’t my songs any more,” he continued. “People come up to me and say the strangest things like, ‘This song meant a lot to me’, or they tell me what they think the song is about. And maybe it’s not, but their version is usually better than mine, so I usually agree with them.”