Declan de Barra
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Declan de Barra

Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music



Former frontman of Clann Zú, "Blackbird Song" is the first single to be lifted from de Barra's forthcoming debut , Song of a Thousand Birds. The first thing that hits you about de Barra is his voice: it's full of that quivering emotion found in the vocals of Antony and the Johnstons, and even Johnny Cash. There's an intensity and darkness which stems from the way he wraps his voice around the lyrics. Not since Jeff Buckley has hope ever sounded so desperate and wanting. On the flipside, 'Throw Your Arms Around Me' is equally mesmerising. Desolate and bare, it affords de Barra's voice the opportunity to soar. His phrasing, enriched by his country accent, only serves to highlight the vulnerability he sings about. A passionate, intense and stunning record. Hotpress Magazine (Ireland) - Single of the fortnight - Hotpress (single of the fortnight)

"hideously beautiful debut"

Declan de Barra
Song of a Thousand Birds
Rogue Goat
four stars ****
Waterford's Declan de Barra has a voice of oak, amber, suffering and steel, the baroque quality of a Nick Cave and a range akin to Jeff Buckley. Big words but just listen to 'Throw Your arms Around Me' or 'Blackbird Song' and you will feel like de Barra has just plugged himself directly into your psyche's shadow. Cello, fiddle,piano and guitar adorn this hideously beautiful debut. - Sunday Tribune 26 March 2006 - Sunday Tribune - Ireland

"De Barra takes your breath away"

Some singer songwriters take time to win the listener over. Others have voices so evocative that they carry you away at once. Declan de Barra's mesmerizing Falsetto has a strange, erie beauty that can stop the unsuspecting in their tracks. He comes from a trad background but his sparse and lonesome torch songs are closer in spirit to latter-day crooners Antony Hegarty and Rufus Wainright. On his debut solo album, song of a thousand birds, the waterford native is careful to keep his melodramatic impulses in check. For all it's sweep and grandeur, this is a stripped down record at heart, often consisting only of de Barra's voice and a gentle piano note. Singer songwriters rarely stand out from the crowd at first inspection. De Barra takes your breath away from the very beginning. Metro Newspaper Dublin - 4 out of 5 stars - Metro Newspaper - Ireland

"apple tree single review"

If the singles released thus far are anything to go by, Declan de Barra's forthcoming debut Song of A Thousand Birds should prove a cracker. 'Apple Tree' , the follow up to last year's Blackbird Song" is another sparse haunting and piercing piece of work. Again de Barra's fragile and emotive voice is to the fore, often bringing a spiritual quality to the track. This particularly shines through in de Barra's of t bewitching and poignant lyrics. Another gem and another track to whet anticipation for Song of a Thousand Birds.Hotpress Magazine - Ireland - Hotpress- Ireland

"Song of a thousand birds"

"To say that DeClan de Barra is a musical genius is an understatement. To say that his former band, Clann Zu, was everything a band should ever be is absolute truth. To say that de Barra could never live up to the unbelievable expectations his previous works have set is pure science fiction. On his first official solo album, Song of a Thousand Birds, DeClan shows that he may not have progressed mightily, but he also most certainly has not lost a step.
At times minimalist, at others thoroughly drenched in instrumentation, Song for a Thousand Birds is a rare display, an album that allows de Barra's distinctly original baritone to shine, accentuating the positives and downplaying the negatives. His phrasings, which have always been slightly off-kilter, are powerful, precise, and dramatic. His lilting, soaring voice fills space like few others. Whether it be pitted against guitar or violin, DeClan de Barra's voice always comes out victorious.
Much like his voice, his first solo album, Song of a Thousand Birds, is a triumph. Soul-baring and spiritual, it helps to draw a firm line between art for art's sake and art for the good of humanity. Sit this album next to a Van Gogh or a Rembrandt and it's as at home as it would be next to The White Album or The Wall. Shine on, you crazy diamond."
Decoymusic - USA - Decoy Music - USA

"Album of the month"

"It may sound hackneyed but these are songs with a gaurantee of goose pimples. The intensity of de Barra’s voice is breath-taking, as well as the musical mix of rough, sparingly arranged acoustic-folk with a lot of celtic impact. Definitely no album for listening along the way – this piece of work requires calmness and concentration. But who follow this, will be rewarded richly.” Unicum, Album of the month March 06 - Germany - Unicum - Germany

"Stunning Voices"

"It is one of the most stunning voices I have ever heard, deep and intense, always powerful… Within this Singer-Songwriter-Hype there are only a few candidates, who convince me, because they come across honest and unaffected. Maybe I’m impressed that this man is living art, maybe in the purest, maybe in the most immediate form – namely without ommiting anything.” -Germany - Sellfish - Germany

"Album review Spain"

"You will realize on listening for the first time to "Throw your arms around me" or single "Blackbird song", we are not before a conventional work, but before a small masterpiece." - Muzikalia - Spain - Muzikalia - Spain


" De Barra singing in Irish and English manages to maintain a frailty
that's shatteringly beautiful" -The Age - Australia - The Age

"Interview in Sunday tribune"

2 april 2006
From scavenging for food to turning down major record label offers, the story behind Declan de Barra’s new album is as incredible as the music.
Here in the Paul Auster School of music journalism nothing gets us like a bonefide hand-to- mouth story. Suffering rocks. So when Waterford’s Declan de Barra innocently tells us that things got so bad after returning from exile in Australia he and his band resorted to scavenging for food in Dublin skips we were suitably hooked. De Barra was trying to scrape a living while using Ireland as a base for his bands European tour but it just wasn’t working out. Something had to give so the seven band members went their separate ways and it struck de Barra that he should record his own album by himself. The only problem was that, as a singer, he couldn’t play any instruments. It’s getting even more interesting, isn’t it?
The resulting album, Song of a Thousand Birds, is a beautiful piece of work, its haunting chimes echo like a coffin ship being tossed across a worrisome ocean. Without going into full review mode, for a self-produced, self-financed, self-recorded debut, it is outstanding.
So what’s this about the skips and never having played an instrument in his life until two years ago? Let’s start at the beginning. ‘ I emigrated to Australia n the late 80s and used to be a singer in a punk band [called non intentional lifeform]. We toured with the likes of Marilyn Manson, korn and Kiss. The racism in Australia was blatant and it was so accepted – racisms against Asians, Africans whoever. That made me even more angry and I got very disillusioned [with punk music] and started listening to artists like john Coltrane when I realized that there was more than one way to skin a cat. You could get across intensity in different ways, with a single violin for example.’ That’s what he did on the next band Clann Zú’s two albums.
The problem with touring the Melbourne collective was one of logistics and de Barra had to turn down tours due to lack of funds. “I’m not kidding but we were eating out of bins and the guards would come along and ask what we were doing…I don’t mind sleeping face down in a hedge but with seven people I could see the writing on the wall. So I asked myself what could I do by myself so I thought about the piano but obviously I couldn’t carry that on my back so the obvious choice was the guitar. I was very wary of the whole singer songwriter thing but I thought fuck it just make music and don’t give a shit about what people think one way or the other. So I picked up the guitar and the result is this album’.
De Barra wrote all but two of the 11 songs himself once he had learned the instruments. “ This was completely new to me. I’m extremely confident about my voice and I know what I can and can’t do but the instruments were terrifying and astonishing. Some of the things I thought were complex were simple and vice versa”
Once he had layed it all down he got some musicians that he had become friends with to help out. Richie Egan from Jape/Redneck Manifesto came in to play bass. “I wanted Ronán Ó Snodaigh from Kíla to play bodhrán and percussion and there was a guitar there and he picked it up and played it. So I got he world’s best percussionist playing guitar on the album. Maybe next time I’ll get Eric Clapton to play bodhrán!” Cion O’Callaghan from Paddy Casey’s band also came in on drums.
I was wondering how on earth he conceived of the songs without any knowledge of the instruments. “ There is no distinction between painting, music and lyric writing. If I see little vignettes, stories or visuals or paintings for songs I just translate those into words or melody and while I’m laying it down I might hear a note that would suggest a whole lyric. Other times I might be watching the TV and get really angry and just want to put my foot through it [and a song might come from that].”
In addition to the aforementioned instruments there is cello, fiddle and a Pakistani instrument called a shruti box/ “I heard Rónán playing it and I thought it was Uileann pipes and when I saw it I thought it looked like a concertina. I call it cheap mans Uileann Pipes.”
Mostly recorded in derelict houses across the city, Song of a Thousand Birds was inadvertently funded by the Irish film Board for whom de Barra was working on a series of animation projects. “I just locked myself away in abandoned rooms all over Dublin. This resulted in some pretty hilarious situations where I ended up recording on St Stephens Day, trying to plug microphones into flooded rooms and hoping not to get electrocuted.”
Lyrically de Barra is informed by the plight of the emigrant/immigrant. ‘A lot of my music is based on the experience of being an immigrant and being forced into a different way of thinking. I fully identified with the people of Kurdistan or whoever who had no idea (of the country they arrived in). There are a lot of similarities - Sunday tribune - Ireland


Album 2006 - Song of a thousand Birds
Singles - Blackbird Song, Apple tree, Throw Your Arms Around Me


Feeling a bit camera shy


The past:
Declan de Barra was born in Waterford, Ireland and has been working as an independent musician since the age of 18. Forced to emigrate to Australia during the bleak 80�s, Declan quickly entered the Australian Music and Arts scene, touring the country for a number of years with his group �Non Intentional Lifeform� on Dutch label Roadrunner Records.

In 1999 he formed the musical group Clann Z� featuring various musicians from Melbourne�s Classical, punk and electronic scenes. Clann Z� became critically acclaimed internationally, releasing two albums on Canadian political label G7 Welcoming Committee, home to writers Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn as well as acclaimed groups Propaghandi and International Noise Conspiracy. The albums �Rua� and �Black Coats and Bandages� made the top ten critics choices in various overseas press for 2002 and 2004.

Following Declan�s return to Ireland in 2002 he quickly became part of the Irish music and film scene. Continuing to perform with Clann Z� on their final tour throughout 2004 in Canada and Australia, Declan also found the time to perform as a solo artist in Ireland.

Filmmaking has always been the natural progression of Declan�s musical pieces and songs. Having received numerous accolades for his animations his works have featured in numerous national and international film festivals.

The present:
Everything about Declan de Barra is a tangled mess of warped angelic tones. An intense and passionate voice weaving dark, beautiful and powerful songs. Sparse compositions drawn with a lonesome cello or hobo guitar line glittering underneath a soaring and intimate voice. Musical sketches that barely touch the surface in one stroke and rip through the paper with heavy mark in the next.

There is an overwhelming sense of drama and movement in all his work. Dark vignettes play themselves out constantly inside his psyche. �I see little movies and images burning in my head, I turn them into paintings, I turn them into writing, I turn them into
songs.� Translated into musical canvasses these beautiful and poignant songs mark Declan as one of the most unique most exciting voices to come out of the new Irish
music scene.

Musically de Barra is shape shifter, crossing many musical realms and living in none. From the moving dark melodies of the almost Sean N�s like �Leaves in the Autumn� to the intimate and sparse �Curfew�, to the huge and dramatic �Blackbird Song� and �Three Days
From Now�. It all has Declan�s unique tattoo carved in into it�s back. Lyrical themes running from tales of loves and lives lost, refugees, resistance, cultural reclamation, hope and survival. So where does he reside musically? In what musical compartment shall we place him? Is he a singer songwriter? Is a he a poet? A�? de Barra�s response to the question is �I don�t give a fuck what you call it�it�s music that comes out of me. I don�t have a choice. You can call it what you want as long as I get to write and sing� Song Of a Thousand Birds is Declan�s debut solo album. The songs recorded in various flats, basements and
abandoned rooms in Dublin by de Barra over the course of a year and a half. Perhaps this explains the unique feel to the album, a sense of air left vacant, sparse and intimate lines whispered into your ear by an unseen singer. The melancholic feel on the songs tempered with an underlying hope that refuses to die, resistance to fate.

A troubadour, de Barra lives the music; he has lived hand to mouth for years, at times forced to steal food from bins in order to survive while making music. �There is no choice�I have to sing and write�it�s like a sickness, a beautiful sickness I am in love with. Song of A Thousand Birds was done with what ever I could beg borrow or steal, I ploughed
what little money I had into buying microphones and the like, food rent and sleep were secondary issues. I was really lucky that so many great musicians liked the songs and helped me out. This album is all I�ve eaten, drank and slept for the past few years.�
Fortunately things have progressed rapidly for de Barra with Song of a Thousand Birds� receiving rave reviews all over Europe and Declan touring and playing festivals from Germany to Spain. Declan�s live show can only be described as intense. After years of touring the world in various cult bands Declan broke free of the constraints imposed by working as part of a band �I wanted to be free, free to say yes to shows anywhere, free to hop on a plane, train, boat, and play to new people every night in the most direct and
intimate way. I didn�t want to hide behind anything or anyone anymore; every note and every word must live or die on its own merits. Honesty and simplicity can be like a punch in the face and that�s what I wanted, these songs had to liveand survive on their own�

Song of A Thousand Birds features some of the cream