Lisa Lambe‘s creative range – which incorporates both her music and a successful career as an actor – takes its latest turn on new album ‘Juniper’, an ode to Ireland away from the city.
The album is what you might call ‘a mood’ – soulful, delicate and visceral, and a heady tribute to the rural environment that spawned it. “The title track was sparked by a boldly gnarled juniper tree I spotted on an isolated bog road,” Lambe says, and that kind of inspiration flows through the record, both lyrically and in its subtle textures.
Ahead of its launch, I spoke to Lisa about Juniper, which is out this Friday, April 3…
Congratulations on the new album. I haven’t heard of many albums so explicitly inspired by nature. Do you have a particular way of applying your surroundings to your music?
This album is certainly a love letter to nature. I spent many months over the course of a year in Connemara and so every day I was there has inspired and lead to the texture of the lyric and sound of the project. I think when you are making new work –where you are or a sense of place will always influence you, and then it’s a choice about whether to embrace that and feed it into the work. Lyrically this project is certainly an ode to the landscape.
In some senses, this also seems to be a real tribute to rural Ireland. Are you still inspired by our landscape?
Yes very much so. I love nature and I love the quiet. When I have downtime I always escape the city and find my own rhythm. I feel very drawn to the rural landscape.
Was there anything specifically that you took from the studio in Donegal?
I take amazing memories with me from the studio, atmosphere, the collaboration and the joy. There was a lot of joy making this album, a shared experience in the truest form and that is down to the people involved in making it with me.
You seem to live a really quite international life. Has that helped colour your perspective on humanity and the way you portray music and characters?
I feel lucky to have travelled and performed in so many places. What I always take from it is this little mantra: Be kind. We are all under the same sky.
Tell me a little bit about the videos that go along with Tiny
Devotions and Hunter’s Moon…
I have had a great time making the visuals for the new album. Tiny Devotions filmed in Iceland in the wilderness- again an incredible landscape, Hunter’s Moon filmed live in the Pepper Cannister Church during a live show and the latest video for Dust and Sand filmed on location in Connemara, where Juniper was written.
All of these places and locations are part of my story and part of the making of Juniper now which is a great visual diary for me.
You have to wait until September now to play these songs in Dublin. Does that feel strange?
I think our relationship with time has changed in the times we are in and being safe and doing our best to be safe for ourselves and our loved ones is a priority. Music can be a comforter and a great companion in these times and to have September to look forward to with my band and to perform for friends and family will be a really special moment. I look forward to it very much and to a time when we can make live music under the same sky!
What is your live show like – does it differ much from the record?
I think the live show will be very like the record but in addition to that I like to tell the story of a song, give a sense of place and atmosphere about how it was created. The musicians both live and on the album are world-class and to have them all together performing is a real gift for me. The sound is soaring.
Is it more difficult to promote a record under these circumstances?
For me, it’s been a personal 18-month journey with the album so time for me is my friend –if the project was to take longer that would be ok. When we came into this new reality I wanted to do what was first and foremost best for us in a human sense.
The record label also were so tuned into that and I guess to release this album on schedule –we decided this week is a way for me to give something to out to ether and hopefully bring some comfort through the lyrics and tone of the album in these difficult times.
You talk about the notion of ‘tribe’ when you introduce the album. How important is that idea to you?
Collaboration is everything and this project is a real testament to that. From the moment this began and Karl Odlum came on board, we began to gather our tribe of musicans . I feel very lucky.
The Irish Times have called you ‘the finest singer and actor of your generation’, which must feel great. How did you feel when you read that for the first time?
It’s an incredible statement and one I am humbled by.
Will your plans for the future remain a mix of acting and music?
I think both will be part of my life always. They help each other and are intertwined in me as a performer. To be a storyteller comes in many fashions. To sing a song is to tell a story and to embody a character in a play or a film is the same. Telling stories is what I like to do.