Caoilfhionn Rose Releases Debut Album 'Awaken'
Caoilfhionn (pronounced Keelin) Rose is a singer, songwriter and producer from Manchester. Emerging from a diverse music scene, she ties together remnants of Manchester’s musical past with its evolving present. She has collaborated with musicians from around the world and is perhaps best known for her work with Vini Reilly of Durutti Column: Collaborating on four songs on The Durutti Column - Chronicle LX:XL album. She grew up surrounded by music (dad loved jazz and mum was a massive folk fan) but it wasn’t until her late teens that the muse took hold: “I’ve always been interested in music but I really started to get into it after a period of illness when I was 17. It was music that made me begin to feel like myself again. Listening to my iPod, everything felt new and exciting and yet vaguely familiar and nostalgic. A year or so later, during her recovery she started to write songs again on the piano and started performing in Manchester, graduating through open mic slots to her own shows.
Caoilfhionn’s music draws on a diverse range of influences from The Mummers, to Rachel Sermanni, Melody’s Echo Chamber and Broadcast. She also professes to a love for beautiful, stripped back, piano based music, such as Dustin O’Halloran and Peter Broderick. Vini Reilly from The Durutti Column is a big influence and inspiration. “We’re friends now after collaborating a few years ago and I have become a big fan of his music. It is intricate and detailed but spontaneous and free.” Another inspiration is her immediate environment. With Manchester’s Fletcher Moss Park especially inspiring. And it was what led her to Gondwana Records, Matthew Halsall, when she heard his 2012 album Fletcher Moss Park. She reached out and shortly afterwards he went to see her perform at The Art of Tea Cafe in Didsbury Village. Blown away by the fragile beauty of her music he offered to produce a recording for his label.
Awaken, is Caoilfhionn’s debut album, co-produced with Matthew Halsall, guitarist Rich Williams and Matthew’s brother Daniel Halsall (artistic director of Gondwana Records) she describes it as a deeply collaborative effort. Expansive, fragile and experimental it’s a rich tapestry that draws on folk, psychedelia and subtle electronica influences. For Caoilfhionn it represents a busy mind, change, and an up and down life. “It is an honest and personal account, full of memories and mumblings to myself that I hope other people will relate to or at least understand”. It’s also a deeply collaborative album featuring songs developed with her band mates, Matthew Halsall and one song, Wild Anemones, even features her gran mother! And the title track of the album sums up the whole body of work. It’s a positive song about looking outward, forwards and all around. It marks the beginning (like waking up) and feels like the starting point of a lot more music. “It was the song that pushed me and moved me out of my comfort zone. “Having played solo as a pianist for a couple of years, it inspired me to work with new sounds, musicians with a different approach to making music”.
About the songs:
Awaken was written by Caoilfhionn, Matthew Halsall and bandmate Rich Williams. The song was sparked after Matthew Halsall gave her some drum loops to work over and his use of mellotron flute is inspired by Broadcast. Lyrically it’s about noticing nature and everything around you, about taking a step back from your problems and going for a walk outside.
The languid ‘Unravelled’ was improvised over a track created out of samples by Gwion Owen (AKA Broko G). The vocals were recorded on a USB microphone which gives it a deliberately lo-fi feel. It’s a warm-fuzzy sounding kind of song, about the happy beginnings of a relationship.
Being Human, Caoilfhionn describes as that rare song “that it makes me happy to sing”, not originally intended for the album It was one of those songs that just sprang to life and lyrically it’s about life not being perfect but that you can find pleasure in just being with someone. It also features backing vocals from another local singer-songwriter from Manchester - Hannah Ashcroft.
The stripped back A New Day stemmed from a jam with Matthew Halsall where he was making guitar and bass riffs. Set at the end of summer, it’s a song about looking forwards, to the future, even though ‘soon the leaves will be falling’.
The upbeat Under The Night Sky has a psych-y, fun feel that nods to The Beatles. Melotron flute and the psychedelic guitar solo give the song a light-hearted and playful feel. This was the final song written which completed the album. In contrast to Caoilfhionn’s more melancholic songs,
‘Under The Night Sky’ was a way for her to demonstrate her interest in many styles of music and bring a new tone to the album’s soundworld.
Shadow Of Your Smile developed from another sample / beat based tune made by Gwion Owen, which he’d named ‘shadow of your smile’, Caoilfhionn kept the title as a a nod to my interest in jazz music. The lyrics are about feeling secure and safe with someone. ‘I was lost before us, now I know you’re there. Come and walk with me and guide me there’ It’s about recognising where you’ve come from and what you have.
Long Way Round addresses Caoilfhionn’s illness. ”It was me consoling myself that I went the ‘long way round’ and not the wrong way round”. Texturally this song is a lot more stripped back than many of the others on the album, giving it a raw and intimate quality.
Wild Anemones is one of Caoilfhionn;s oldest songs, written from the point of view of her gran, it also features samples of the elder matriarch. This song was a home-recording and has quite a lo-fi feel in comparison to some of the other album songs. It’s a very personal song and quite raw, though the subject matter is dark in context it’s a very uplifting song to sing”.
Amy was inspired by a close friend who returned from Australia, pregnant, and whose happiness inspired Caoilfhionn to write this tribute.
Raindance is a deeply personal, cathartic song about a specific negative event in Caoilfhionn’s life, which charged her to write the song. The drums drive the music with a thundering pattern. It builds in intensity throughout, right up till the end with cyclic melodies in the outro as the guitars, bass and drums lock in together. A watery synth rings out at the end of the surging outro, a sort of calm after the storm kind of sound.
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News story provided by Rich Williams (The Soul Harmonic)