Info: Junior Brother is an alternative folk singer/ songwriter from Kilcummin, Co. Kerry, playing slightly unhinged, sometimes heady tunes.
His music is unique, experimental and distinctly Irish, being heavily influenced by his upbringing in rural Ireland, attempting through the songs' sounds and atmospheres to recreate the archaic, weird and beautiful nature which surrounds his family home. Currently based in Dublin, Junior Brother's played the annual Whelan's Ones to Watch festival the last two years, and has played support for acts such as the Hot House Flowers, R.S.A.G. and Mark Geary.
He has three EP's; a demo collection called "The Slane is Gone", the "Sleeping at the Bottom of the Sea" EP, which has gotten some rotation on RTE Lyric Fm's Blue of the Night programme, and a new EP called "Fuck Off I Love You" recorded over a year in his family dining room. Influences include Planxty, Richard Dawson, Pentangle and Richie Kavanagh, the harp playing of Derek Bell and Alan Stivell, and the vocals of Dessie O'Halloran and Joanna Newsom.
At times people are quick to dismiss an artist who shrouds themselves in a comedic or humorous alter-ego, it's a subconscious and knee-jerk reaction well ingrained over time, and it permeates all art, not just music. In one sense I can't think of any way of taking your artistic trade more seriously, generally those who follow this method are the deeper thinkers among us.
When I first watched the video for 'Castlebridge' (bottom) a fortnight ago I got the tongue-in-cheek (each to their own!) reference to Richie Kavanagh in the press release. But it was very quickly apparent that I was listening to something unique when you looked beyond what was being presented. Ronan Kealy's vocals are stand alone and at times (see below video) special; 'my body's in a bad way, hungover at Mass, I can feel the devil in me, oh a fear has gripped me, I feel everybody's eyes, even the baby Jesus statue comes alive....' Alt-J's Joe Newman meets Damien Dempsey or Christy Moore and I completely get the Pentangle angle (wah-hey!), Bert Janch's self-titled solo debut resonates all over opening track 'Greeting Ground' and on the previously released '7 Ships' (choon).
Junior Brother - Hungover At Mass
Junior Brother also carry's that inimitable Kerry trait and proud tradition of being a bone fide story-teller, exemplified on 'You Make A Fine Picture', the EP's closing track, píosa sean-nós gan dabht. Yes Kealy's music is non-standard, his vocals unfamiliar and his themes unchartered, but favour fortunes the bold and perhaps the strongest traits in his music and persona are a lack of cowardice mixed with talent, for me, that's always going to be a winning combination, irrespective of what trade you're plying.
Junior Brother - Castlebridge
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