Essential Gigs : Belinda O'HooleyGaleri, Caernarfon : 01.04.2020
Renowned as one half of folk duo O'Hooley & Tidow, who recently provided the theme tune for BBC 1's Gentleman Jack, Belinda O'Hooley's debut solo album, Inversions, places her own compositional and piano abilities to the fore.
Inversions is a collection of instrumentals, two spoken word pieces and one song. Minimally arranged, full of space for emotion to flow, each is a masterly triumph.
Inspiration for the album was deeply rooted.
There are traditional pieces and O'Hooley's own compositions interwoven in the set; all are shaped by history. O'Hooley’s father was at the end of a long line of male musicians from Monalea in the West of Ireland, so in the simplest of terms O'Hooley has continued along a well worn ancestral path as the first female carrier of a tradition, but also added her own soul-stirring intuition to the recordings.
Despite the singularity of purpose that drove the project, there was room for collaboration. Much of the time the flow of the piano is unaccompanied, but the high-point of Inversions comes, in a reflexive instant that catches your breath, when Michael McGoldrick’s uilleann pipe joins O’Hooley’s haunting reading of the famine song, Skibbereen. Likewise, the instrumental symbiosis between piano and Heidi Tidow's accordian shapes the majesty of Aran Fawddwy.
Inversions was recorded at MOMA in West Wales, with O'Hooley's wife and musical partner Tidow recording and producing.
As an instrumental album it has a grace and intimacy akin to that found in Ludovico Einaudi's work. The framework the compositions exist in - with the two spoken word pieces bookending the LP, and the song Hawkward, about escaping from an oppressive situation, at its core - mean they land a heightened emotional impact.
Inversions contains music of uncommonly vivid warp and weft; take any chance to see O'Hooley bring that enchantment to a stage.
Belinda O'Hooley will play Galeri, Caernarfon on Wednesday, 1 April. Tickets are here.