Clannad going back to basics

NÁDÚR (Nature) is the new studio album by Donegal band, Clannad, whose members are siblings, Moya, Ciarán and Pól Brennan and their twin uncles, Noel and Padraig Duggan.

Clannad going back to basics

Nádúr is their first album since 1989’s Past Present to feature the original quintet. Pól left the band then.

Featuring 13 new tracks, Nádúr is a return to their early sound for the Grammy winners, and comparisons with their third album, Dúlamán, from 1976, are valid.

Moya says “it certainly has that flavour. But there are newer songs on it that have a touch of what we were doing on the previous albums.”

The original five reunited for Dublin concerts, in 2011, that were filmed and recorded for a DVD and CD. These were released following airings on PBS TV in America. “Since we did the Christ Church Cathedral concerts with the five members together again, doing the very first song from the very first album, it was probably bringing us back to feeling what was good in what we started off with. It was definitely the root of the band,” says Moya.

“When we went in to record this album, we had loads of songs — more than we needed — and we thought we’d choose the ones that suited the title and the whole natural element of the band,” she says. “We’ve been out touring for the last year-and-a-half to two years and it’s nice to hear the feedback of the fans. People are still discovering us and they all tend to go back to where we originated, with the early albums,”

Clannad was founded in Ghaoth Dobhair, Donegal, in 1970. The band has sold 15m records. Their music combines folk, jazz, pop and rock with strong vocal harmonies.

Clannad’s lyrics are sung both in Irish and English and they are probably the most successful act in Celtic music. Belfast’s Duke Special joins the band for one track, ‘Brave Enough’, on Nádúr. “Duke Special is such an amazing singer-songwriter,” says Moya. “He’s been on stage with us on a couple of occasions, singing ‘In A Life Time’ (a hit single for Clannad in a duet with U2’s Bono).

“We offered him to put his vocals on a song and he jumped at it,” she says.

Another track, ‘TransAtlantic,’ was co-written with novelist, Colum McCann. “Colum is so into music — he loves music and he’s been down in my brother, Pól’s studio a few times and he’s a good friend of mine, too.

“Pól said it might be nice to ask him to write some words, so we sent him the ideas we had. But we had no notion that he’d come back with a synopsis of his book, TransAtlantic,” says Moya.

Subsequently, McCann spent a day with Clannad, in Ciarán’s studio in Wicklow, putting the song together. “It just came together so natural and so lovely. It’s like a ballad. It’s not like something we’d normally write.

“In our writing, we don’t tend to write ballads and songs in English. So this is a nice change for us to have Colum come in, and write with us a ballad. It was a real treat for us to do something different like that.”

* Nádúr, by Clannad, is out now on the ARC Music label.

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