Saturday, August 20, 2011

from Northern Ireland: Cara Dillon: After the Morning

On her album
After the Morning Cara Dillon includes original material, covers of songs by Scotsman Dougie MacLean and American writers Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy, and traditional songs. It was a bit of a change up for the singer, who had been associated most strongly with traditional folk material, and it is one she handled well, at times choosing sparse instrumental backing for her graceful light soprano voice, and at others bringing in fuller sounds of strings, and percussion and yet at other times backing from keyboards from her husband Sam Lakeman, who produced the album, and traditional musicians Cathal Hayden on fiddle and Mairtin O’Connor on accordion.

“We always try to keep the song at the forefront of what we do, myself and Sam,” Dillon says, “because we both have such a great respect for the tradition. The way we kind of describe it to each other at times is like finding a really beautiful gemstone and trying to find the right setting for it, so that it’s the focus of everyone's attention. The setting is just as important for it to be seen. We work on the songs a lot, and sometimes people come up after the show and say, is that a traditional song, or a song that you’ve written? And to me, that’s quite a big compliment.”.

cara dillon after the morningDillon grew up in Dungiven, in County Derry, Northern Ireland, where she knew traditional music as part of her daily life. “You know I think kids growing up now think folk music is a bit uncool, but for us then, it was just the done thing, and I loved it,” Dillon says. She’s not speaking of some far bygone days, either: she’s is in her mid thirties now. Dillon was good at the music, too, winning the All Ireland prize for singing in English when she was fourteen.

It is to Derry and Donegal that Dillon often returns for song ideas, both seeking songs from the the tradition and seeking inspiration for the songs she and Lakeman write and arrange. On After the Morning, Brockagh Braes and Bold Jamie are two from the area’s well of tradition. The Streets of Derry, on which folk rock star Paul Brady, a native of Derry, joins in, is another. The Snows They Melt the Soonest is another from the tradition as well, with just Lakeman’s piano thoughtfully backing Dillon’s voice. The original songs include the bittersweet love song Never in in a Million Years and a quiet, reflective tribute to Dillon’s father, October Winds.

Though Dillon tours internationally, she’s not quite as well known outside Europe as she is within it. After the Morning is a fine place to make her acquaintance.

you may also wish to see
Dillon in a traditional focus on her album
Hill of Thieves
video of Dillon singing There Were Roses at
Music Road: Ireland, north and south
Dillon and Gretchen Peters have toured together
Music Road: Gretchen Peters: Northern Lights

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posted by Kerry Dexter at

2 Comments:

Anonymous Vera Marie Badertscher said...

Your introduction of the musician adds so much to the appreciation of the music. Good job of putting a personality to the name on the album.

10:20 PM  
Blogger BIKE LADY said...

Vera, I agree. I imagine Kerry's music-filled day and I am envious. I do not make music a priority in my life. I'm thankful I can come here to learn more and gain a greater appreciation for something I once spent a lot of time with. Her posts also remind me to be open to different sounds.

2:43 PM  

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