Tomorrow I will have boxes of my new album Arboreal in the back of my car and then in my hand. It is the culmination of a year or more's work. From initial concept to final beautiful package. And along the way I have so many people to thank; firstly and mostly my co-musicians Cormac O'Brien and Dominic Mullan who slid gracefully into the project once I had a shape on things. We recorded Arboreal in less than two days at Hellfire Studios in the Dublin Mountains with the unflappable Ivan Jackman at the controls. Ivan also mixed and mastered...very much a fourth member of our merry band. And it was a merry occasion....totally stress free and in the flow. And considering I had bronchitis at the time...the easy high of it all saw me through.
Who else? My dear friend Paul O'Connell who arrived at the studio to take photographs and my other dear friend Cormac Larkin who designed the CD for me. I love the design...you can't miss it!
The Arts Council of Ireland gave me a bursary award that supported me during the composition process and Carlow Arts contributed to recording costs. It means so much to be given the backing and belief, especially when one has to continually self-motivate.
I started out in January 2019 with the simple idea of finding inspiration from my local woodland walk, but as the year went on the growing alarms about climate and ecological crises were arriving thick and fast. So my thoughts were intensely with the question of how artists respond to this.
I kept a project diary during the writing process and looking back I can see all the names of inspiring ecologists, philosophers and poets that I came across - Susanne Simard, who proved the woodwide web is there beneath us, Glen Albrecht who created neologisms to help us imagine a different future, Kathleen Dean Moore for reminding us that climate action is a moral responsibility, Joanne Macy for her years of sounding the call, Robert Macfarlane and Richard Powers, and many more, all of us trying to re-imagine a world based on community not commodity and the interconnectedness of us and nature.
How all of this became Arboreal I'm not sure. All I know is I wanted to reflect the natural world, and our precarious human place within it. I know that many are either in despair or denial and it sure ain't easy. I hope Arboreal offers grace, hope, emotional truth. I hope you can listen to it while sitting under your favourite tree.