Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Albert Niland returns to Dolan's this Wednesday

ALBERT Niland doesn’t do industry speak.
No talk of shifting units, radio play, scheduled releases - it just doesn’t interest him.
Instead, the Mountmellow guitarist is happiest when travelling, just him and his guitar - and his thoughts - for company.
The singer-songwriter, probably best known for his exceptional cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, returns to Dolan’s this week for his annual appearance at the venue, part of a month long tour of his favourite haunts in his home country.
Niland is a creature of habit, a sort of travelling troubadour, following a similar structure from year to year, existing beyond the realm of the insular Irish music scene, surviving by way of a “cottage industry”, as he calls it.
“The way it is for me now, there is kind of a natural order for the year,” explains Niland, who released his fifth album, The Hungry Ghost, last year. “
The way it has fallen I do Ireland every January, and then go off and do Belgium and Holland and then I might do a few gigs in Germany and Switzerland, then France - and I keep working hard in France, gigging away until the end of September and then I'll hibernate for the winter and do the same again the following year,” he explains.
He adds: “I just live wherever I am, I know all these little places I can stay, guesthouses and BBs and stuff - it is a cottage industry. There is no coolness attached to it, just do what you say on the tin.”
The Hungry Ghost is Niland’s first studio album in many moons; his last two - A Night In Dublin and Live At The Paradiso - were both recorded live, capturing the intensity and spirit this virtuoso is capable of bringing to the live arena.
“The album consists basically of songs that I wrote while I was travelling,” says Niland. “I went on a busking escapade that started in France, and ended up in Norway. I wrote these bunch of songs as I was on the road, as I got out of the loop for a while. “I wrote a lot of it up in Norway, and when I got back to Ghent, where I was living, I found a little studio there out in the middle of nowhere, with one guy running it. He didn't know me and me him. It was perfect.”
He says the album harkens back to his debut album, Dirty Day, a soulful and raw expression of Irish folk music, intertwined with the continental influences that have always informed Niland’s output. Travelling is in his blood, and helps him hone his craft, it seems. “
Travelling is always the best place for me to be writing, (but) I'm a bit too used to it for my liking I think. It's the gypsy blood,” he laughs.
“I've made little vague attempts to settle down that last about two hours. All these clubs exist in Europe, which we really don't have here any more, local music clubs that have been there for years and years.”
It is a life he dearly loves, a sort of modern day wandering minstrel, but he looks forward to getting home for those select gigs, one of which is in Dolan’s, an “ace venue”.
But there is an acceptance in Europe that Niland cannot leave behind.
“That is the profound difference I think; out there a guy with a guitar is really regarded as at least equal, it is kind of like a trade, which is all anyone can ask for.”
Albert Niland plays Upstairs in Dolan’s this Wednesday, February 3.

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