Tipperary, Ireland, based The Wood of O, Breege Phelan and Will McLellan, have released their folk inspired debut EP ‘MountainSkyMoon’. The 6 track EP was written and recorded at home during lockdown, with songs inspired by the pirate queen Gráinne Ní Mháille, the abolitionist Harriet Tubman, the Leannán-Sí of Irish mythology, the political Aisling style poems of the 17th and 18th century and of course, the obligatory nod to heartbreak and revenge.
“These songs were born over the space of three years and the theme of the EP comes from stories that reflect our interest in human history and Irish mythology” say Breege and Will.
This EP has a distinctly folk sound, opening with the sounds of Gráinne Mhaol’s masts creaking in the wind as she sailed along the Mayo coastline and closing with a rendition of the ancient Irish song ‘Ūrchnoc Chéin Mhic Cáinte’ written by Peadar Ó Doirnín in the mid 1700s, which blends into the atmospheric outro; an original instrumental piece called ‘Macalla’ or ‘Echo’
The Wood of O have been playing at music festivals in the South East for the last few years and in June, performed a sellout show at The Brewery Lane Theatre in Carrick-on-Suir as part of The Clancy Brothers Festival of Music and Art.
Right from the opening song, Gráinne, the voice of Breege Phelan catches the listener's ears and transports them to the time of myths and legends. The arrangement has a mystical feel to it. The story of the :warrior queen" is well known to the Irish people.
Meadow Song is a gentle love song where the warm feelings come clearly through and the violin only intensifies the impact. The lyrics are raw and simple and it's the honesty that resonates.
Broken Doll also deals with love but from a different angle. It's more of an acceptance of the fact things haven't worked out the way you imagined and realizing you cannot change people's hearts so it's time to move on. From the outside looking in, it may seem like it's easier when you're the one ending the relationship and not on the other side.
Freedom's Way is mostly acappella spiritual where, as it is custom, the lyrics carry a heavy and deep meaning and everything is centered on a lead singer's performance. Breege Phelan truly shows her vocal range and her overall abilities here.
If there was a signature track representing the work of The Wood of O, it would be The Ballad of Tadgh Dall. Simple yet dramatic arrangement forms the backround for a story taken straight from the mythology.
The traditional "Úrchnoc Chéin Mhic Cáinte" with lyrics by Peadar Ó Doirnín and melody by Peadar Ó Dubha shows an essence of The Wood of O as they are paying respects to their heritage and making it their own with dignity and skill.