“I have a real affinity for cathedrals. I travel for a living, around different countries all the time, and I find myself in foreign cities every day of the week on my own, and I do love going into cathedrals. I don’t know why, they’re just great spaces to be in,” she says.
Sharing the stage with her will be St. Fin Barre’s cathedral choir. McEvoy has arranged a song for the choir, a practice she began as a session musician. Says McEvoy: “I used to do string arrangements, choir arrangements, orchestral arrangements for other people. You know, various bands over the years. I try to do a bit of it every now and again, but, given that I play solo a lot, I rarely have the opportunity. But when I heard that the choir was so good in Fin Barre’s, I thought, ‘here’s an opportunity to do an encore with the choir’.”
The song, ‘Something So Wonderful’, which she penned with Henry Priestman, of 1980s Liverpool band, The Christians, has found favour with many gospel choirs. “A couple of the Dublin gospel choirs have done it, actually,” says Eleanor, “and it just lends itself to four-part harmony, or the five-part harmony I’ve done this one in. It lends itself really well to having multiple voices singing it, and it’s kind of anthemic. It’s about somebody who does something wonderful. It sounds like a spiritual song, but it’s not really. It’s just admiring somebody whose convictions are stronger than their need for approval”.
She’s not the only guitarist to fall for St Fin Barre’s charms. Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, a devotee of the building’s architect, William Burges, was smitten when he visited it in 2005. The inspiration for Eleanor’s latest, and tenth, album harks back to an era not far removed from Page’s. Featuring four interpretations and eight new tracks, If You Leave… ’s stripped-down blues is thematically inspired by Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones, and the music of the Stones and The Beach Boys.
Says McEvoy: “It was terribly odd. I always thought I really admired Brian Jones, because I loved him as a musician. He dreamed up the sound for the Rolling Stones. It was that really organic, American blues sound, mixed with a crowd of English guys from London, and they formed this sound together — but that was Brian Jones’ vision. But as I started writing about him I realised, actually, I hated the guy. You know, I’d hated to have gone out with him, I’d hated to have lived next door to him. He would have been a nightmare to employ. It was that funny thing that, writing those songs, you think you feel one way about something, but when you start writing your really true feelings come out.
“They say that happens with writers as well, novelists, that sometimes they just scribble and they’re amazed at what comes out. You think, ‘oh, I’m not resentful about this situation,’ and you actually start writing and you go, ‘actually, I am’.”
*Eleanor McEvoy plays Cork Opera House on Friday, Apr 19