Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin is a Dublin-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. His musical roots are in sean-nós singing – the style of his father – and he grew up listening to the likes of Sorcha Ní Ghuairim, Seán ‘ac Dhonncha, Colm Ó Caoidheáin and other greats from the tradition. He is also influenced by folk singers from the English language tradition such as Liam Weldon, Luke Kelly, Anne Briggs, Margaret Barry, and Thomas McCarthy.
Eoghan has performed and recorded with a number of different bands, including Dublin-based Skipper’s Alley, Irish/Scottish/Manx Gaelic collaboration Aon Teanga: Un Chengey and folk/electronica band Jiggy. He also collaborates with Clare fiddle and viola player Ultan O’Brien. Their debut album Solas an Lae won best album at the RTÉ Folk Awards in 2021.
Over the past few years, Eoghan has come into his own as a solo artist and songwriter. His songs – written in both English and Irish – build on his sean-nós singing foundations but combine hard-hitting lyrics with other musical influences to create a rich, contemporary sound. Today [Thursday 10th November 2022], he shares his debut solo album, ‘The Deepest Breath’.
“This album is a bit of a departure from anything I’ve done before. I’ve written songs and tunes before, and a few of them have made it onto various different albums, but I’ve never put together a full project that is mostly based around my own song writing.
This is what I’ve tried to do with this album, The Deepest Breath. These are mostly songs that I’ve written over the past few years, both in English and in Irish. Writing them has been quite a cathartic experience for me – many of them were songs that I probably wanted to write for a while before I got there. They brewed and stewed for quite a bit before they ultimately emerged. The writing process is often like this for me – something bubbles under the surface for a while, but ultimately when I sit down to write, most of it just comes out in a kind of a flow.
This is not really a trad or a sean-nós album, but sean-nós singing is the foundation for my singing and I think it affects my writing too, in both languages. I learned my singing language as a child from my father first, then as a teenager and young adult listening to lots of different singers. Now in the last few years I feel as though I am able to build with it and develop my own melodies and songs.
I’m really glad to have been able to work with some brilliant musicians to develop the music. I wrote them initially as bare songs, usually just with the concertina to map out a chordal structure. Now there’s a wide range across the album in terms of sound, from the one traditional song Róisín Dubh, sung acapella, to the likes of Only The Earth, which has a big soundscape built around a concertina loop, with keyboards, strings, clarinet, percussion and some whale song thrown into the mix. Having Alex Borwick on as a sound engineer and producer was fantastic, because I went into the studio without a fixed idea of the overall sound. He really helped in terms of bouncing ideas around so that we could chart a general trajectory.”
Recorded, mixed, and produced by Alex Borwick at Hellfire Studios and at his own studio, and mastered by Aidan Foley. The album features Eoghan on vocals, concertina, flute & clarinet; Ian Kinsella on guitar & vocals; Kaitlin Cullen-Verhauz on cello & vocals; Ultan O’Brien on fiddle, viola, & vocals; Conor Lyons on bodhrán & vocals; Alex Borwick on keyboards, piano, electric guitar, trombone, & synthesisers; Muireann Ní Cheannabháin on vocals; Saileog Ní Cheannabháin on vocals & piano; and John Francis Flynn on guitar
Accompanying artwork and photos are by Ríona Ní Riagáin.