Songs not just for Amy

Singer-songwriter Ultan Conlon
Singer-songwriter Ultan Conlon

By David Hennessy

Galway singer-songwriter Ultan Conlon is coming to the UK just after his latest album, Songs of Love So Cruel has been released to a UK audience. The album follows his 2009 debut Bless Your Heart. Earlier this year saw the release of the Irish independent film, Songs for Amy, that shot in his home city also featured Ultan’s music. Songs of Love so Cruel could be described as a concept album of mature love songs.

Now aged 34, the musician explains to The Irish World what inspired him to write the album: “I was in a position myself where I was single, I was turning 30 and I was looking back at some relationships I was in and looking forward: ‘What are my chances of meeting that one true love?’ It was just examining relationships around me. I’ve seen ones that have lasted for years and ones that didn’t work and I was kind of scratching my head and going, ‘what’s it all about?’

“Some people see the title and go: ‘Ooh, is it really deep and dark?’ But it’s not really. If you listen to the album, some of it is quite uplifting as well and by the end it does find some redemption.”

When there is the mention of those difficult album blues, Ultan explains he didn’t experience any of these: “It’s funny because I made my first album when I was 27 or 28. I had been writing for years but never knuckled down to make an album. I found the first one really difficult because I was new to studio work. It took me a few years trying to piece together songs that I had written over the space of eight or nine years and make them into one cohesive album.

A scene from the film, Songs for Amy
A scene from the film, Songs for Amy

“In a weird way, when I started to write the second one, I started with a blank canvas and I got one song and the rest kind of followed suit. My first one didn’t get out to a massive audience so I didn’t feel that pressure of ‘I have to progress again’ or anything. I felt it was actually a natural progression without the pressure.”

Since its release in Ireland in September last year, the album has been well received and growing steadily with his last single In the Mad gaining much radio play on both sides of The Irish Sea: “It’s getting out to a lot of people, people are finding out about it over time which I’m really happy with. It’s always been a slow burn for me with stuff but I don’t really mind that. Obviously I would like things to snowball a little more but there’s always been a steady stream for me of people hearing my songs and there seems to be a massive response.”

And Ultan has good reason to let things happen in their own sweet time: “I did Bless Your Heart in 2008. It came out at the end of 2009 but it was very slow here, a few people got it and enjoyed it but it was only two years later, the producer of the film (Songs for Amy) heard my album and said: ‘Two of these songs would work in the film’. I know all about putting things out and thinking ‘that didn’t work’, and then two or three years later, somebody hears it at the right time and it brings on something good. I think patience is good with those things, all is not lost if it doesn’t happen instantly. If it’s a good song, I think my songs are, it will stand the test of time. Once you put it out there, you don’t know who will hear it. It grows wings.”

For the full interview, see the July 26 Irish World. 

Ultan Conlon plays The Gallery Café in Bethnal Green on July 28, Club Fandango at The Buffalo Bar on July 29 and Loves Café in Weston Super Mare on August 1. He will also play some gigs in October.

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