Two More Hours, the sixth solo album by Waterford singer, Karan Casey, is a result of recent upheavals in her life. A departure, it is her first collection of self-penned material. It is a bold move away from the styles of music that made her name (particularly in the 1990s with the Irish-American trad group, Solas).
In September, 2012, Casey launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the record, describing the songs she had written as “songs of love and healing”. “I was spurred into action by being quite anxious, in a way,” she says. “I didn’t have a record company and I was trying to figure out how I would make another album, and if I would.”
The downturn in the record industry had reached beyond the mainstream into the margins. When her old Solas collaborator, Séamus Egan, told her they’d raised the funds online to make an album, Casey saw a solution.
She had songs written. The death of her mother, in 2010, had left her bereft, but resulted in the keening lullaby ‘Little Annie’. “That’s definitely what this album is all about. It’s getting through things and getting through grief. You know, sort of finding your path and kind of recognising that, maybe, that wasn’t the right thing to do at the time, but you can do other things,” says Casey.
Another track, ‘Home’, was adapted from the Paula Meehan poem, from her collection, Mysteries of the Home.
Says Casey: “I just read it and a song came into my head. It was like it was already written. Sometimes, you’re sitting there and you’re thinking ‘what will I do artistically’, and you can’t think of anything. So I go and I read poetry and I try to find ways to sort of motivate and inspire myself, and that kinda opened up a whole world for me and got me going. I was lucky, I suppose.”
Two More Hours reflects Casey’s longstanding love of soul, jazz and even rock music. By the end of the album’s opener, the title track, Casey’s break into a scat riff recalls her night gigs (inspired by Ella Fitzgerald) in a Dublin bistro, while she studied in the Royal Irish Academy of Music by day. This was prior to her move to New York, in 1993, to continue her studies.
“I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson and I love all that kind of music. Actually, the main reason I emigrated to America, in the previous recession, was to learn more about jazz. So, you know, I have had a long love of particularly American music,” she says.
She was advised against doing such a record. People counselled that her metier was traditional musician, but Casey went with her instincts. “I suppose, in many ways, I wanted to just do it, so I did it. For better or worse, a lot of it was about release. I felt I didn’t have to prove myself anymore and I felt like this is something I really wanted to do, for a long time, so just do it. Now, whether that’s entirely self-indulgent or not, I don’t know, but I love it and I’m very proud of it. I like the album a lot.”
nKaran Casey launches Two More Hours in the Corner House, in Cork, on Saturday, May 17. Further dates include The Sugar Club, in Dublin, on June 11 and the Pavilion, in Cork, on June 12.