Kieran Goss, a hugely talented, and one of Ireland’s best known Irish songwriters, released the debut album of himself and wife Annie Kinsella last year. Now about to embark on an Irish tour, I finally caught up with Kieran to talk all things album, life and Ireland.
‘Oh the Starlings’ is a truly wonderful, enchanting collection of music. I had only listened to it last week and I was engaged from the onset. Such is the haunting voice of Annie. I expected to hear more of Kieran on this, but his musical accompaniment and of course his voice too, alongside the wonderful vocals of Annie, contributes to this being truly something special. So of course, being me, I wanted to know more about this collection of music.
It was mid-week when I got to speak with Kieran and he was home in Sligo at the time. Telling him I was sitting home in cold and wet Donegal immediately drew him back to the late 90’s. “I know that part of the country well”, he tells me. ‘”We rented cottages in Moville in 1998 when we were recording. We turned one of them into a recording studio. I wish I could get up there more often.” We wish so too. Think it’s time one of our North West venues hosted Kieran and Annie (please take note folks – go book this wonderful duo!)
However, it was time to talk about this album and where it came from and how it was being received to date. “We’re very proud of the album. It’s our debut as a due.” Kieran continues, “Annie is a singer in her own right. Having sang with ‘The Fallen Angels’ and having done harmony for me over the years. But knowing what a wonderful voice she has I felt she should be doing songs on her own. Over the years we built up a repertoire and it was time for Annie to become the main singer and myself to do those harmonies.” ‘Oh The Starlings’ showcases this combination at its finest.
Recorded two years ago in New York, ‘Oh The Starlings’ boasts 11 tracks with the title track at the beginning. It was this very title track that drew me right in. I asked Kieran about this track as my first impression was that I loved the simplicity of it and that to me it sang like a lullaby. It just draws you in and you don’t miss a word. Kieran tells me, “Annie and I are fans of simplicity. Great songs are always very simple. Annie began writing this song and we both finished it.” How did the song come about? “A couple of years ago, we were out walking here where we live on the west coast of Sligo. Annie noticed the starlings and said, ‘oh the starlings are still around.’ It’s a song about the power of friendship. Starlings stick together like friends and family. So that’s the focus of the song.”
Its interesting that I thought the first song was like a lullaby, as Kieran tells me the last song is just that. “‘Time to go sleeping’ is bookending this album as I wrote this as a lullaby for my goddaughter. Although sang at funerals too, it was and is intended as a lullaby.” A very apt frame of these two songs the album does indeed have.
Not only because it incorporates a Yeats poem, ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’, this album has a real poetic feel to it. From that very opening title track, it’s poetic throughout. It’s quiet, its thought provoking and it’s soothing. Kieran describes it as, “a quiet poetic album that’s quietly making its way into the world. The songs that last are the quiet ones. It’s very much like how we live our life – quietly.”
Kieran and I chatted about the modern day and the loss of tradition. He agrees that the internet has gone wrong. As well as connecting us all, the world wide web is also driving us apart. Kieran says, “The human connection is very important. There’s always time for a chat in Ireland. That in effect is the role of music in the world. This album is our best expression of this – it seems to speak to a quiet part of people and it connects and touches people.” That’s exactly what this album did to me. It just touches you. And you can’t help but listen to every word.
“It does the same with a live audience” Kieran confirms. “It’s just me and Annie singing and talking to the audience. People are loving that.”
If you think you’d love that too, and I don’t doubt that you will, you can find Kieran Goss and Annie Kinsella touring over the coming weeks all over Ireland. These are gigs you really don’t want to miss. This is music and indeed tradition, at its finest.