By David Hennessy
“I’m delighted,” former member of Celtic Woman Méav says of the response to her solo album The Calling which is released this month. “Really pleased to see the hits mounting up on YouTube for the video and getting some really nice mentions on Facebook and that kind of thing, it’s great to see people responding to it so well especially as the first song that we’ve put out there (the album’s title track) is one that I co-write with Craig Leon. That’s something I haven’t done that much of before so I was all the more nervous about putting it out there because it’s more of yourself, I suppose. Very pleased so far, can’t wait to get out there and start singing the stuff.”
The Calling sees the folk artist collaborating with Craig Leon, the producer who is well known for his work with The Ramones and Blondie. It may seem a strange move for Leon to go from working with rock bands to Celtic flavour classical with Méav but the producer has been focusing on classical music for a long time now, working with greats such as Pavarotti: “That’s the thing: He had classical training as a kid before he ever got into doing all the other work that he did. He absolutely loves folk music, he knows how to marry the two (classical and folk) and it is a tricky thing if you’ve been perceived in a classical box trying to approach music from a different genre. I really shouldn’t be surprised by people who move from one box to the other because I get annoyed if people put me in one box. I suppose he was familiar with those styles and knew how to guide me through making those connections. Growing up, I would have trained classically but all the music in school was traditional so was between those two stools always and so it felt naturally to me to be involved in both of them but people expect you to wear one hat or the other and not to be wandering around too much. He is certainly a wanderer, a troubadour, he’s been through all those styles. I think he’s a good partner for me, we’re already plotting what to do next.”
Méav first worked with the producer when she was invited to sing Don McLean’s Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) at Abbey Road for another of the producer’s projects: “It was the first time I had ever been to Abbey Road, the first time I’d met Craig and singing a song by a very well regarded composer so it could have been very intimidating but actually it turned out to be great because he immediately put me at ease. Even walking the corridors, all the musicians that have recorded there, their mugs are up on the wall so there’s no getting away from it. We just seemed to hit it off and had a kind of musical shorthand for ideas that we liked from the classical side as well as folk and everything in between. I just really enjoyed working with him.”
The twelve tracks of The Calling include the Sandy Denny tribute Listen Listen as well as covers of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Black is the Colour: “Taking on a song by someone like Sandy Denny, I was very conscious of the amazing work they have done. It is intimidating to take on a song like that in a way but I wanted to pay tribute to her as a songwriter because although she’s known as a singer, perhaps some of her songs aren’t as well known as they should be. It was an opportunity to do that made all the more intimidating by putting your own songs alongside it,” the singer from Donnybrook in Dublin almost laughs.
The UK played a huge part in Méav’s early career as she was part of the renowned Anúna from 1994 to 1998, touring with Riverdance when the show first came to Hammersmith in 1995 before taking the show to America: “No one had any idea it was going to take off. As far as we were concerned, it was a week in New York and that’s all we were hoping for. It gave me a taste for the audience reaction and then I got some work with an Irish orchestra touring around the states so that’s what got me started really in the music business. It wasn’t really a plan, it just sort of happened as these things do.”
For the full interview, see the August 17 edition of The Irish World.
The Calling by Méav is out on August 26 in the UK and August 23 in Ireland. For more information, go to: http://www.meav.com/.