Galway’s Niamh Regan has been, unquestionably, one of the rising stars of the Irish music scene over the last couple of years. Considered by many to be a ‘surprise’ inclusion on the 2020 Choice Music Prize shortlist for her memorable debut album ‘Hemet’, she’s gone from strength to strength, delivering a delicate and poignant form of folk with clever, nuanced lyrics.
Since that debut, Regan did, eventually, manage to get out and tour the record, and appeared on one of those surreal versions of The Late Late Show that lacked the traditional audience, performing to both almost no one, and half the country, all at the same time. She’s back in 2022, both with a series of tour dates, and with a new EP entitled ‘In The Meantime’.
“The four songs on this EP were written during the first and second lockdown here in Ireland,” Regan explains. “I was listening, reading and watching a lot more so subconsciously that would have influenced the shape of the stories and themes in these songs.”
“More consciously I was intentionally trying to capture the atmosphere and thoughts around me during lockdown, dealing primarily with an appreciation for everyday and ordinary acts of love, frustration, lack of control and I guess worry and joy in spots, too.”
The debut single from the EP is entitled ‘Winter in Eden’, and centres on a collaboration with Ciaran Lavery, a Northern Irish musician whose vocal approach to music is as subtle and enchanting as Niamh’s.
“Ciaran is a dream to work with. He’s one of my favourite lyricists and I really admire his work ethic and music so it was a privilege to co-write ‘Winter in Eden’ with him,” Niamh says.
Work with Lavery, perhaps, is part of the new-found confidence that has flooded through Regan since her career-boosting Choice Prize nomination.
“The nomination helped my own self belief in my music which has made my musical life all that more colourful and fun,” she says, though the normal route to market for ‘Hemet’ unfolded slowly, with the tour finally coming much later than the record.
“I was lucky enough to complete my debut headline tour for ‘Hemet’ back in November when everything was gearing up to lockdown again, so I had a great shot at getting comfortable on stage, even in a weird time. In 2022 I’m feeling ready as ever,” Regan explains as she looks ahead to what should be a bumper year, a kind of triumphant emergence from behind the parapet.
“I’m really enjoying watching all the gigs come back and seeing the calendar fill up with good news and opportunities, is a really fantastic feeling. Long may it continue,” she says. “I feel everyone deserves a great summer full of music and I hope to see as many artists perform in the sunshine as well as play as many festivals as possible to make up for the last two years.”
It seems a far cry from the most unusual of Late Late Show appearances, one Regan made in an empty TV studio but beamed to our living rooms.
“It was a special moment, audience, or no audience. It’s pretty surreal in my mind, to sing a song you wrote in your bedroom on national television,” she says. As for the future? Regan hopes to “tour successfully internationally, write music that I’m proud of and play music with people who inspire me.”