Following both a global pandemic and an acclaimed, landmark debut album, inimitable Irish Alt-Folk act Junior Brother recently returned with details of his new album “The Great Irish Famine”, out 2nd September via multidisciplinary Irish label Strange Brew.
Today, he has shared a video for his new single “This Is My Body”.
An idiosyncratic, challenging and richly lyrical singer/ songwriter, Junior Brother is the pseudonym of Co. Kerry, Ireland singer Ronan Kealy. Chosen as The Irish Times’ Best Irish Act of 2019 and nominated for the 2019 Choice Music Prize for Album of the Year, Junior Brother has built a rabid following thanks to unmissable live shows, and music both excitingly forward-looking and anciently evocative. His strange stories unfold with reckless abandon upon a distinctive guitar and foot tambourine accompaniment, influenced as much by the avant-garde as music from the Middle Ages and his home place in rural Ireland.
In addition to earning a Choice Music Prize nomination, Junior Brother’s trailblazing debut album “Pull The Right Rope”, also saw Kealy garner two nominations at the 2019 RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards, for Best Folk Album and Best Emerging Folk Act. Similarly, vigorous approval from modern-day Irish figureheads such as the Rubberbandits and Cillian Murphy has furthered Junior Brother’s stock, the latter playing Junior Brother several times on his BBC Radio 6 Music Show. Along-side further airplay, his television performances include appearances on RTÉ’s the Tommy Tiernan show, Other Voices and the Choice Music Prize Awards night in Vicar Street.
“The Great Irish Famine” leaps boldly forward into an exciting new chapter, and into a shaken new world – staggeringly profound, brutally beautiful in its epic sweep. The new single “This Is My Body” is an intoxicating first taste of this new material. Thematically centred around self-image and the anxieties that are tied to it, the new track expertly toys with tension and release with building guitar lines and stark percussion swelling into moments of repose around Kealy’s frenetic vocals.
Speaking on the single, he says: “We relax thusly into the anxiety of self-image, and the sheer heights of absurdity we humans go to denigrate ourselves, for being utterly human. If we’re lucky, we find our soulmate, who can heighten this self-loathing in the loathing self – But a soul mate mates with soul, and that can only grow stronger as body bobs and weaves through a nourished life.”
The track is also accompanied by a stunning and surreal new video, which can be seen here:
The single follows recent album track “No Snitch”, a song of towering, bruised catharsis. Kealy’s emotive and powerful vocals fluctuate across the tracks temperamental instrumentation which is both at once tumultuous and calming.
Speaking about the themes across the album Kealy further explains, “I was very conscious to bring each element of the debut into this follow-up, but dramatically dig ten times deeper and stretch ten times further down into each avenue”. “No Snitch” soars amidst darkly comic self-reflection (“This Is My Body”), anxious reflexes on modern living (“No Country For Young Men”), and the painful role the past plays in a nation’s present (“King Jessup’s Nine Trials”).
Both startlingly dynamic and profoundly accomplished, “The Great Irish Famine” reflects fall-out of trauma both personal and universal, national, and international, minor, and mountainous, historic, and contemporary – all uncompromisingly conveyed through the magnetic, emotionally potent vision of a one-of-a-kind artist at the top of his game.
In addition to his new release, Junior Brother is currently also set to play several shows and festivals across Ireland this year with further dates TBA. Kealy has been steadily building a fanbase around Ireland and beyond for his mesmerising live shows, winning hearts in iconic venues such as Vicar Street (Dublin), The Beacon Theatre (New York), Cork Opera House (Cork), Blackpool Opera House (UK) to name just a few. He has played support for a variety of like-minded acts such as The Proclaimers and Glen Hansard, the latter bringing him on a tour of the US East Coast in July 2019.
The full list of Junior Brother’s forthcoming dates is as follows:
21st August – Footsbarn Theatre – Ballynabuck @ 7:00pm, Dingle
18 September – Fall Right Into Place, Claregalway Castle
24th September – Night & Day Festival 2022 @ 7:00pm, Castlerea
28th October – The Button Factory @ 7:30pm, Dublin
Tickets are available HERE
“The Great Irish Famine” is out 2nd September via Strange Brew – Pre-order HERE
Produced by: Julie MacLarnon and Ronan Kealy
Mixing and Additional Production: John “Spud” Murphy
Recorded onto 2″ Tape at Analogue Catalogue Studios, Rathfriland, Co. Down. Additional recording completed in Guerrilla Sound Studios, North Strand, Dublin and Winton Mews, Rathgar, Dublin.