Following on from her first release of this four part series with Munster collaborator Susan O’Neill ‘Carry My Song’, a BBC and RTÉ Radio One playlisted roar of the Atlantic, Sands has embarked on a musical expedition to Ulster, to continuing pushing the boundaries of Irish music in an inviting, and invigorating way.
It is often said that Spring roars in like a lion, and out like a lamb. When Clare Sands found herself in a 500 year old off-grid cottage up the side of a mountain in Donegal, she wondered whether she had set herself up for slaughter with two lions of Irish Folk music, Steve Cooney and Tommy Sands. Clare laughs: “The lamb and lions were soon dancing to the same tune, elevated by that potent Irish potion (starts with a ‘P’ ends with an ‘oteen...’)”
She continues:“We wrote and recorded the song over three days and nights by candle-light to create a mantra that growls from the belly and sings from the heart, ‘Tell Me Your Secrets’ (Abair Liom do Rúin) is a transcendent, traditional trance-like ode to Spring that pulsates and captivates the young and the old, pulls and pushes the brave and the bold.”
Australian born guitarist, bassist, producer and didgeridoo player Steve Cooney is one of the most dynamic modern performers in traditional music. He's also a fine composer, known mainly for the reel Skidoo which was originally recorded by Stockton's Wing and since recorded by Sharon Shannon amongst others. He's a noted songwriter too and his songs have been recorded by artists including Altan and Mary Black. Tommy Sands, Co Down's singer, songwriter and social activist has achieved something akin to legendary status in his own lifetime. From the pioneering days with the highly influential Sands Family, bringing Irish Music from New York's Carnegie Hall to Moscow's Olympic Stadium, he has developed into one of the most powerful songwriters and enchanting solo performers in Ireland today. His songwriting, which draws the admiration of Nobel Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney and father of folk music Pete Seeger, prompts respected US magazine "Sing Out" to regard him as "the most powerful songwriter in Ireland, if not the rest of the world"
The mesmerising video, created by emerging visual artists and twin sisters Liadain Ni Bhraonáin and Kasia Kaminska was shot in the warm thaw of a typical Irish spring morning, that started with an icy sub zero blizzard of hail and snow.
The energetic performance explores Ireland’s rich soundscapes and landscapes through rise and fall, roots and their sprawl, navigating through uncharted territories where Irish and English languages, Traditional, Folk, and Contemporary musics meet.
The poem, recited by Tommy Sands at the start of the track, with gentle instrumental backround and birds chirping, sets a powerful atmosphere in the listener's mind. The tune then picks up the tempo and when the voices, complimenting each other in harmony, join in, the poignant and sometimes haunting composition is born. Even if you don't speak Irish you're immediately taken by this musical storm. Just open your heart and welcome these sounds and words into your soul.
Photo: Kasia Kaminska