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NI Music Summary – March

THE SINGLES: Whether coming soon or just arrived, NI artists Una Clarkin, Hello Casanova, The Fugues, Buffalo Bay, and Johnny James (featuring Rebekah Fitch) have been hard at work, and these tracks are ones to keep your eyes and ears on the lookout for.

Hello Casanova - Voodoo, Belfast

Hello Casanova

Thinking Lately: New single by Armagh alt outfit, Hello Casanova showcases the band’s recent evolution along with a few surprises. The same hook laden choruses you come to expect from the band, with a guileless polish that brings to mind bands like Echo and the Bunnymen or Frightened Rabbit.

There’s been some change ups, some tweaking of harmonic formulas, as well as supplementary vocals. It is however Irwin’s distinctive voice clearly at the helm. The exception, a marvelous execution of harmonies at the bridge.

This self-produced gem is not only a testament to the lads passion and dedication to the work, but this tune had the volume inching upward from the get go as the track progressed until the inevitable pushing of repeat. Oh, and be warned, you will be singing it in your head for the rest of the day.

★ ★

Johnny James featuring Rebekah Fitch

The new single, Hiding by Johnny James featuring Rebekah Fitch is poignant lyrics put down to a dance beat; illustrating each artist’s individual as well as collective strengths.

Ambient grooves slip seamlessly into singer songwriter acoustic notes and back again. James’ vocals fit into that sweet spot between the tender intensity of Ed Sheeran and the sexy gravel of James Morrison.

Then the real alchemy begins. Featured artist Rebekah Fitch joins in by the second verse. Fitch’s vocal vibrancy demands focus as it swoops in, soaring and swelling on into the chorus.

This alliance of synth notes and guitar riffs, of distinctive voices symphonically alongside one another, is a collaboration I’d like to hear more of.

★ ★ ★★ 

Una Clarkin

Belfast singer-songwriter Una Clarkin, steadily becoming a staple in the Northern Ireland folk music scene, will release new single, Marianne on March 8.

Written in part as tribute to the late, great Leonard Cohen, that influence can definitely be felt in the sharp lyrics honed by soft vocals. Clarkin’s octaves shift as easily up and down as the slide on the steel guitar.

This track formulaically and vocally a delectable brew of Joan Baez meets Roy Orbison. An enchanting folk tune with its Americana slant brings to mind the poetry of late night musings on a lazy summer evening.

Buffalo Bay

New single by Buffalo Bay brings their signature buoyancy to this surprisingly synth-centric single, Better Days. Though spritely and danceable it is the vocals and harmonies that continue to charm.

Better Days sets the stage for Buffalo Bay’s continuing evolution while staying true to their distinctive recipe of nostalgia meets freshness.

Propitious in both lyric and tempo this track cannot help but put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.


The Fugues

Belfast-based indie-rock outfit The Fugues have released new single, Lady in Pink. Continuing to garner attention as they fine tune their sound, Lady in Pink finds just the right formula. Pairing shrewd lyrics against effusive melodies as jangly guitar riffs evolve into edgier guitar solos. This blueprint more in tune with 21st century indie-rock sensibilities. Think, Catfish and the Bottlemen, or A Plastic Rose.


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NI Music Editor, Gigging Northern Ireland