"Eilis Kennedy makes a welcome return as a solo artist, and her third album Westward is a fresh-faced, wide-horizoned beauty. Debuting as a songwriter, Kennedy’s late vocation reveals that her ﬁnely tuned ears are matched by an equally poised pen. " The Irish Times
WESTWARD, the new CD by Eilis Kennedy is a product of life on the Atlantic fringe, with songs in English and Irish inspired by famous musical nights in Dingle and beyond. Having travelled to the west coast of California to record with Grammy Award winning guitarist William Coulter, this album reﬂects where Eilis is at now, as an artist. Featuring traditional and contemporary song and in a new departure for Kennedy, two self—penned originals, referencing her own distinct place and people.
Baile an Mhuraigh is at the edge of Europe, the most westerly tip of the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. It‘s a place that lies between the wild grandeur of Mount Brandon and the booming Atlantic Ocean. It is here that Eilis Kennedy's parents transmitted to her a lifelong interest in poetry and song. At home, both music and the Gaelic language were part of everyday life, a happy fact reﬂected on this beautiful new recording, Westward. She has been fortunate to have had the opportunity to listen to many of the finest exponents of song in her locality and she has absorbed all that resonates within that vibrant Gaeltacht tradition, yet it is the emotions and stories associated with singing that have informed her love of song.
John Bennys pub in Dingle, famed for its all night singing sessions, just so happens to have Eilis as its Bean a’ Ti or Woman of the House and Eilis and her husband John Benny are renowned for inviting Ireland‘s finest artists to perform here. It is through immersion with this melting pot of musicians and singers that have passed through Dingle and settled in the area, that Eilis was first encouraged to record. She released to great critical acclaim two solo CDs Time to Sail in 2001 and One Sweet Kiss in 2005.
In 2007, alongside Rita Connolly, Seamus Begley, Jim Murray, Eoin O'Beaglaoich & Daithié Sé, she was part of Béal Tuinne, a 15 song cycle, based on her own father, Caoimhin O'Cinneide's poems and set to original music by world renowned composer Shaun Davey (Brendan Voyage, The Relief of Berry Symphony). In 2009 she formed Lumiere with Pauline Sanlon, on discovering a shared interest in and love of song and on enjoying the new experience of duo singing. They released 2 albums, Lumiere and My Dearest Dear, and have toured Ireland, Australia, the USA and Europe. They have done much to bring the songs of Ireland to a wider audience and have received huge praise for their spirited performances worldwide in places such as Carnegie Hall in New York and The Barbican in London.
For this record Eilis has taken to the pen for the first time. ’The Flannel Red‘ tells a personal tale of superstition from the Great Blasket Islands. 'Highway Mack references the currently relevant issue of homelessness. These new songs sit alongside fresh interpretations of classics such as ’John O’Dreams’ and less well known gems such as ’An t-Ull' and 'Pe' in Eirr'nn I.
'This CD reﬂects same of my musical travels in the last 20 years and, for the ﬁrst time, some original songs of my own. Now that I am older, with more time, l have the freedom to spend time writing as well as learning new songs The people with whom l have developed my music over the years also feature here, and I recorded it outside Ireland to bring that perspective that being away from the familiar can bring. For me there is a sense of the past from my own family, and also a glimpse of the new. l had strong ideas of sound and also the look of the booklet and photographs which years of recording and performing have given me in a sense an independence.’ Eilis Kennedy
"a major vocal talent” lrish Music Magazine
Folk Radio UK have made Eilis Kennedy their artist of the Month on the back of her recent CD, Westward.
More details here... http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2017/03/eilis-kennedy-westward-artist-of-the-month/
Also available from Copperplate
Eilis Kennedy: Time To Sail
Eilis Kennedy: One Sweet Kiss
Various Artists: Beal Tuinne
1: The Elk River Dam
Pé in Eirinn Í
The Saucy Sailor
John o' Dreams
The Elk River Dam
Pé in Eirinn Í
Cailín mo Rúnsa
The Hills of Isle au Haut
The Flannel Red
The Saucy Sailor
Will Ye Go to the Indies
Ciúmhais Charraig Aonair - Béal Tuinne
SONGLINES June 17 REVIEWS * * * Mature solo album from one of Lumiere’s bright lights
One half of Irish duo Lumiere, with Pauline Scanlon, Éilís Kennedy hails from Dingle, Co Kerry in the west of Ireland. The rugged coastlines and untouched natural beauty of the area have certainly translated into this honest and authentic collection of songs, her third solo album.
A favourite of Irish singers, ‘John O’Dreams’ by Bill Caddick opens the album, setting the tone for the remaining ten tracks. It’s a softly sung, beautiful version accompanied by co-producer William Coulter on guitar and Barry Phillip’s rich cello. The listener is not shortchanged of traditional ballads on this album either – whether it be Irish, American or Scottish. ‘Cailín mo Rún-sa’ again showcases Kennedy’s organic vocal, backed by a stunning arrangement for cello, fiddle and Jesse Autumn’s harp.
Kennedy makes her songwriting debut with ‘Highway Mack’, based on an experience she had while travelling in the US and ‘The Flannel Red’, an Irish lament inspired by the story of her great grandfather who drowned near Dingle. One of the more up tempo numbers, ‘Saucy Sailor’, follows, providing a melodically contrasting section between ballads. The closing, ‘Going Home’, acts as an apt bookend to this collection of songs heavily influenced by tradition. There is nothing groundbreaking here, but it is a beautiful offering that is sure to delight many listeners. RACHEL CUNNIFFE
Froots 4.17 Reviews
County Kerry singer Eilis Kennedy's Time To Sail was one of the finest debut albums from an Irish female singer in ages. it had taste and great song choice mixed with subtle arrangements framing her gorgeous voice.
Her third album Westward reaffirms the initial promise. It reverts to the acoustic and semi-chamber backings which characterised her first album and is aeons away from the lukewarm semi-new-age backings employed for Lumiere, her duet with Pauline Scanlon.
Here the songs and voice can breathe and it‘s a sweet welcome sound. John O'Dreams maybe a standard but with William Coulter’s cello and Barry Phillips‘ guitar behind her creamy vocals it shines anew. Likewise. the Gaelic songs An-T-ull and Pe In Eireann I are gloriously spare and sparse in sound and frame her voice perfectly. Some deft revivals of forgotten songs like The Saucy Sailor and Gordon Bolt‘s Hills of isle Au Haut pay dividends in spades while she makes her songwriting debut with Highway Mack and The Flannel Bird. based on real life stories.
Westward is the sound of a singer completely at home with her material and environment and is a subtle gem. John O'Regan
The Living Tradition May 17
This is the sort of album that you could give to anyone, whether or not they liked folk music – it’s faultlessly performed and very digestible. The focus is quite emphatically on the voice, which is exactly right; Éilís is an outstanding singer with a very strong track record both solo and with her fellow Dingle singer, Pauline Scanlon, as Lumiere. Having said that, the accompanists and arrangements that have contributed to this recording have done an excellent job.
The songs on this CD fall into three basic types. There are traditional English language songs, songs in Irish, with the remaining tracks being contemporary. Éilís herself is the credited composer on some of these, including what was the stand-out track for me, Flannel Red, a compelling story with a great air based on her great grandfather’s life and death that could have come straight from a Blasket legend, and sung so well that I found myself wanting more narrative songs – in fact, more songs, full stop.
She’s chosen well-known songs from other writers such as Bill Caddick (John O’ Dreams) and Gordon Bok (Hills Of Isle Au Haut) – in fact, a couple of the tracks started their lives on the other side of the pond, and her Saucy Sailor’s accompaniment sounds very European, so there’s loads of variety.
My only criticism is that she could easily have put a few more tracks on this (11 track) CD – it certainly leaves you wanting more. John Waltham
The Irish Times
Evolution, if not revolution, is usually at the heart of most self-respecting artist’s sensibilities . Why else go on? Ballydavid’s Éilís Kennedy (one half of Lumière) makes a welcome return as a solo artist, and her third album Westward is a fresh-faced, wide-horizoned beauty. Her songbook’s been spoilt by her extensive travels, with Scotland and California yielding particularly rich pickings. Debuting as a songwriter, Kennedy’s late vocation reveals that her finely tuned ears are matched by an equally poised pen. So the biographical The Flannel Red and Highway Mack ebb and flow as if plucked from a beloved, dog-eared songbook. That distinctive voice makes a perfect foil for a delicately balanced collection bookended by John O’ Dreams and Going Home. Cello, English horn, fiddle, bass and guitar etch a perfectly shaded backdrop for this graceful collection. Siobhan Long