Karan Casey
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Karan Casey

Cork, Munster, Ireland | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Cork, Munster, Ireland | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Celtic

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"irish Voice review of Two More Hours"

The timing couldn’t be better for that Waterford songbird, Karan Casey, to be coming out with a new CD entitled Two More Hours as she embarks on another American tour.

Thanks to a very successful crowd sourcing campaign via Kickstarter last year, she was able to realize her dream of producing an album containing all her own songs which come along at a critical stage in her life and career. When her mother Ann Casey passed away in November of 2010, Casey’s world was upended personally because theirs was a very special and close relationship, one where her mother’s love and affection and nurturing helped bolster Casey’s work as a singer and her roles as a wife and mother of two children.

It shouldn’t come as any great surprise that an emotive singer like Casey would have to deal with her own grief and take some time to evaluate her life and find a way to give voice to those personal feelings that surrounded her.

Sure, she penned some songs before, but now it became more important to her that her new material reflected a lot of that soul-searching. So she spent more time at home and on the piano, working with her husband Niall Vallely who produced the CD and also created the lush orchestral arrangements that bathe the new work so wonderfully.

Even her press release that accompanied the new CD took a personal tact as the new project “opened a door for me — a magic door. I felt released and sort of sprang into action. I didn’t feel under so much pressure to produce sometime whole by 12 o’clock lunchtime.

“I am impatient but writing and reading poetry helps you to learn to wait, be kind to all those voices in your head, to make more coffee — tea is better — and to wait, be kind to yourself, to wait” she wrote in that strong new confident voice that grew from her pain and loss.

The result is a stunning and gorgeous recording that seems to capture the essence of Casey as a singer who has moved gracefully and freely through the ages and genres of music that have influenced her since she first started singing.

From her early fascination with rhythm and blues singers and jazzy arrangements, to the intense mentoring period with Frank Harte who taught her that songs matter because the words tell the history of the people who inhabit our worlds, to the more contemporary times where there are so many great singer songwriters who have touched her soul and inspired her to sing — all that experience has been fruitful in bringing Casey to a place where she is comfortable with her own voice and what she has to say for herself.

Long-time fans of Casey’s singing with Solas, her solo career and work with John Doyle and even those who were fortunate enough to catch her Masters in Collaboration Performance with Aoife O’Donovan at the Irish Arts Center in New York last spring will be sweetly surprised by the new album.

Casey has always been cognizant of tempering musical arrangements so they wouldn’t overcome her voice and the lyrics of her songs, and thankfully musicians have usually been approached it the same way.

But Casey and Vallely, who has been working more and more on musical arrangements and integrating a larger sound to enhance tunes and songs, assembled an amazing array of artists to embellish this CD.

Sean Og Graham, Trevor Hutchinson, Danny Byrt, Kenneth Edge, Kate Ellis, Ken Rice, Eoghan Regan, Caoimhin Vallely (Niall’s brother) and Niall himself all contributed mightily to the accompaniment and allowed Karan to soar to new heights. A special treat is heartfelt duet with Mick Flannery and additional vocals by two younger singers in Abigail Washburn and Aoife O’Donovan also added to overall impact.

Casey begins her tour to support the CD this week, appearing at the University of Hartford on Friday night February 28. On Saturday, March 1 at 8 p.m. she will appear at the Algonquin Arts Theatre on the Jersey Shore in Manasquan (algonquinarts.org or 732-528-9211.

On Monday, March 3 she is at Club Passim in Cambridge and on Wednesday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. she will be at Subculture in Greenwich Village (45 Bleecker Street). For more tour dates visit www.karancasey.com where you can also order the CD or download it at Itunes.com. Accompanying her on the USA tour are Grant Gordy and Corey Di Mario. Casey’s tour finishes up before St. Patrick’s Day with a guest appearance on the March 15 show of Prairie Home Companion out in St. Paul, Minnesota.

For more tour dates visit www.karancasey.com where you can also order the CD or download it on iTunes.



Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/irishvoice/Karan-casey-launches-new-CD-embarks-on-US-tour.html#ixzz2zXMv2Br6
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"Songlines review of Chasing the Sun"

Karan Casey doesn't just wear her heart on her sleeve, it sits there throbbing and pounding, suffusing her songs with a vigorous, iron sense of purpose. The woman from County Waterford with the golden voice has so far produced three impressive solo albums (not counting her work with Solas) but Chasing The Sun is a massive leap forward.
It's not just the finely tuned settings of Casey's voice against the sparse backdrop of guitar, bouzouki or mandolin (supported by Ewen Vernal's understated bass-playing) which puts this album on a higher level than her previous releases. There are also the subtle injections of Niall Vallely's concertina, for starters, and a sensitive use of overdubbed vocal harmonies.
Key to it all is that, far more than its three predecessors, Chasing The Sun successfully marries a mix of traditional but sharp-tongued songs - such as the epic unaccompanied ballad "Jimmy Whelan" - with contemporary material that reflects Casey's rising status as one of Ireland's most politically-charged singers.
Her own compositions reveal increasing confidence and incisive social awareness, not least "When Will We All Be Free", which attacks Ireland's current policies on immigration. Above all, however, the songs are invigorated by her gorgeous, sensual and utterly knowing voice. - Songlines


"Washington Post review of Distant Shore"

Karan Casey's first three solo albums (1997's "Songlines," the 2000 children's album "Seal Maiden: A Celtic Musical" and 2001's "The Winds Begin to Sing") were dominated by traditional Irish folk songs. As she did in the group Solas, she sang those tunes in a silky soprano that always seemed to be holding back a little of its power for the sake of intimacy. On her new solo effort, Casey shifts her focus to contemporary folk-pop songs and emerges as the Irish equivalent of Emmylou Harris.
The arrangements are still acoustic but with a looser, more impressionistic feel, accenting the lyrics more than the pub rhythms. Casey's singing is, if anything, even more understated, as if she were delivering these monologues close at hand. Like Harris, she proves a terrific judge of songs, and she alerts American audiences to several gifted Irish songwriters. John Spillane and Louis de Paor open "The Song of Lies" with the striking couplet, "And her mouth was as red as the fresh fallen snow," and Ger Wolfe details the pleasures of a romantic walk through the Irish countryside down "The Curra Road."
In recent years, Casey has recorded and toured as part of "The Crossing," Tim O'Brien's exploration of the links between Irish and Appalachian cultures. O'Brien repays the favor not only by co-writing "Another Day," an absorbing, banjo-driven contemplation of mortality, but also by singing and picking on several other songs. Casey's political sympathies are revealed on Ewan MacColl's anti-death penalty narrative "The Ballad of Tim Evans" and on Mary Brookbank's sweatshop lament "The Jute Mill Song." Best of all is Billy Bragg's title tune, an immigration song whose lovely melody finally gets the lustrous vocal it deserves. - Washington Post


"Irish Times review of Ships in the Forest"

There's enough space in Karan Casey's new collection to accommodate the deepest breath, the most complex storylines - and, fittingly, her bare-boned lonesome voice. Casey's unhurried account of the murderous betrayal of Dunlavin Green, with little more than Caoimhín Vallely's foreboding piano for company, reflects a singer who knows she has nothing more to prove than the health of her appetite for a great song. Gracefully acknowledging her debt to the late Frank Harte, Casey offers a delicate assembly of likely and unlikely choices. The unlikely songs are epitomised by her musical and geographical transformation of Joni Mitchell's The Fiddle and the Drum, the likely ones by her reinvention of the hackneyed Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye. Donald Shaw's minimalist production is pitch perfect,as is Casey's partner, Niall Vallely's spare, white-knuckled concertina. - The Irish Times


"Sing Out Review of Ships in the Forest"

Three quarters of the way through her latest solo album Karan Casey slips into a glorious cover of Joni Mitchell's "The Fiddle and the Drum," her voice accenting poignant lyrics atop the steady drone of Cillian Vallely's bagpipes. It's an altogether appropriate moment; the song came from Mitchell's 1969 album Clouds, which won a Grammy and stunned critics with its poetry and maturity. Maturity would also be an apt descriptor for Ships in the Forest, which finds Casey confident and in command, an artist bent on coloring each selection in ways that draw attention to the song rather than the singer. Having made her mark as a mighty mite, Casey now feels comfortable dialing back her performance; her take on "Black is the Colour" is deliberate, dark, and somber, a minimalist piano arrangement that would be at home on a June Tabor release. In like spirit, Casey offers a mournful version of "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" that opens with voice and a pipe drone before it's lightly textured with piano (Caoimhin Vallely), guitar (Robbie Overson), and concertina (Niall Vallely). Casey still has plenty of energy, as she demonstrates on "Town of Athlone," but she's now become a complete singer, one equally at home with hoppy Celtic material, an a capella Gaelic song such as "Maidin Luan Chincise," or a moody, semitragic rendition of a classic like "I Once Loved a Lass." One of the great voices in contemporary music has just gotten even better. - Sing Out


"Living Tradition review of Two More Hours"

Karan first made her mark with Irish-American band Solas, with whom she spent four key years before launching out on a solo career, which over the course of five solo albums has garnered her many awards. It’s been a while since 2009’s Ships In The Forest and the widely acclaimed duo album with John Doyle (Exiles Return), the latter appearing shortly before the time of her mother Ann’s death in November 2010. This tragedy naturally engendered a sea change in her outlook and thus also her approach to making a record, and it was the discovery and activity of songwriting that helped Karan to move through the grief and view the world anew from the other side. During this time she immersed herself in poetry reading and “talking to a lot of birds”, deriving much inspiration from the interaction of these experiences with phrases and ideas that were springing into her mind unbidden in a process of true creative catharsis.

The resulting album is a collection of entirely self-penned (or co-written) material that sounds markedly unlike the traditional music for which Karan’s been known hitherto, instead arguably more like a Nanci Griffith record in terms of styling and overall sound. Karan tells her own personal story of loss and longing and self-realisation through decidedly contemporary musical settings that are both accessible and believable in the context of the emotions being expressed, leaving a final impression of a newly-gained sense of inner peace. Although the songs sport strong musical influences that embrace Americana, new-country, soft rock and jazz and pastoral-classical, there’s also something less definable, more subconsciously individual about Karan’s mode of expression that nevertheless brings her invention closer to the musical worlds and overall feel of the likes of Karine Polwart and Crooked Still – from the latter’s ranks, coincidentally, Aoife O’Donovan has emerged to sing with Karan on two of this album’s tracks – while another emigré from the contemporary Americana scene, Abigail Washburn, features on the bluesy Blind Woman.

Standout tracks include the gorgeous lullaby Go To Sleep and Young And Beautiful, where if I shut my eyes I can hear Emmylou Harris; similarly on the intensely moving and heart-stoppingly tender duet Still I Stay (co-written by Karan with Graham Henderson), on which Mick Flannery takes the vocal lead. Closing track The Heron is replete with finely wrought imagery, although I’m not entirely won over by Karan’s decision to employ a spoken delivery for the opening and closing sections. Perhaps in its initial stages the album takes a little while to insinuate itself into one’s consciousness, for the opening (title) song is taken at a deceptively easygoing uptempo recalling a classic 60s-pop craftedness. Home is a setting of a lovely Paula Meehan poem, while Sorrows Away (not the traditional Coppersong) also belies its emotional content to some extent, while also introducing the string arrangement that recurs on a few other tracks, notably the quirky Fishes Will Fly; this scoring is a masterstroke provided by Karan’s husband Niall Vallely, who also produced the record and plays concertina and keyboards on the sessions. Additional instrumental support that lends the album its distinctive mellow character comes courtesy of Kenneth Edge (soprano and alto saxes), Sean-Óg Graham (acoustic guitar), Kate Ellis (cello), Ken Rice (violins, viola), Eoghan Regan (acoustic and electric guitars), Trevor Hutchinson (double bass) and Danny Byrt (drums).

Two More Hours is altogether a very beautiful record and even the stauncher fans of Karan’s traditionally-based work will, I’m sure, discover many delights in this deeply personal set. - Living Tradition


Discography

1996: Solas Solas
Her Song: Exotic Voices of Women from Around the World - Various Artists

1997: Songlines - Karan Casey
Sunny Spells & Scattered Showers - Solas
Celtic Tapestry, Vol. 2 Various Artists
Holding up Half the Sky: Womens Voices from Around the World - Various Artists
Voices of Celtic Women: Holding Up Half the Sky Various Artists

1998: The Words That Remain - Solas
Africans in America - Original Television Soundtrack 
Celtic Tides - Various Artists
Greatest Hits - Paul Winter
Legends of Ireland [Rhino] - Various Artists
Winter's Tale [Uptown/Universal] - Various Artists

1999: Celtic Solstice - Paul Winter
Holding up Half the Sky: Voices of Celtic Women Vol.2 - Various Artists
Thousands Are Sailing - Various Artists

2000: Seal Maiden: A Celtic Musical Karan Casey and Friends
Emerald Aether: Shape Shifting/Reconstructions Of Irish Music Bill Laswell
Fused - Michael McGoldrick
Fits of Passion - High Spirited Celtic Captured By Starbucks Various
Ceol Tacsa Various

2001: The Winds Begin to Sing - Karan Casey 
Celtic Christmas: Silver Anniversary Edition - Various Artists  
Evening Comes Early - John Doyle
Two Journeys - Tim O'Brien
Lullaby A Collection Various

2003: Distant Shore - Karan Casey
Brown Girl in the Ring Various

2004: Very Best of Celtic Christmas Various
Other Voices, Songs from a Room 2 - Various

2005: Chasing the Sun - Karan Casey
Lullaby 20th Anniversary Special Edition Various
20 Great Kid's Songs 20th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition - Various
Folktopia - Various

2006: Reunion: A Decade of Solas [CD/DVD] Solas
Acoustic Affair Vol. 1 Various

2007: A Christmas Celtic Sojourn Live [CD/DVD] Various
Excalibur, Vol. 2 Alan Simon
Experience Ireland - Various

2008: Ships in the Forest Karan Casey
Absolutely Irish - Various

2009: Ireland Essential Guide Various
Rough Guide to Irish Folk - Various

2010: Exile's Return Karan Casey and John Doyle
Transatlantic Sessions CD and DVD Various (includes duet with James Taylor)
Highland Sessions DVD Various
Sweet Slumbers: Soothing Lullabies Various
World Travels: World Music for Kids - Various

2012: Rough Guide to Celtic Women Various
Lullabies for Love Various
Celtic Soul: the Very Best of Irish Music Various
All in Good Time Various

2014: Two More Hours - Karan Casey

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Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Karan Casey has long been regarded as one of the most innovative, provocative and imitated voices in Irish traditional and folk music. Her career has spanned twenty five years from the early days as a jazz performer in Georges Bistro in Dublin to her heady days in New York with the band Solas to her now established solo career and she has sold over half a million albums.

      Karan released her first album with the group Solas, which quickly became the most celebrated Irish band in the U.S., and her four years with the group were pivotal. Since embarking on her solo career Karan has released 6 solo albums, a duo album (with John Doyle), an album for children and numerous contributions to other artists' projects appearing on more than 50 albums in total. She has toured constantly throughout North America, Europe and Japan, performing solo, with her own band and with many other diverse artists.  Recent years have seen Karan appearing with Folk legends James Taylor, Liam Clancy, Peggy Seeger, Mick Moloney and the Dubliners and Imelda May as well as performances with Solas, Lunasa, Tim OBrien and Capercaillie's Karen Matheson and collaborations with pianist/composer Mchel Silleabhin and with Breton guitarist Gilles le Bigot's "Voix de la Terre". Other ventures have included The Vallely Brothers Big Band and Niall Vallely's Turas na dTaoiseach/Flight of the Earls event, which was premiered in Belfast's Grand Opera House and later performed in Louvain, Belgium. She was also involved in Tommy Hayes's Apples in Winter multimedia project. She presented a programme on Irish National Television exploring the songs associated with the Irish Labour Movement.

      Karan has won awards for Best Folk Album and Best Folk Female from Irish Music Magazine and been nominated for the BBC Folk Awards and the Danish Grammys and was a key member of Paul Winters Grammy-award winning Celtic Solstice. She has appeared at festivals in Europe and the US such as WOMAD USA, the Cambridge Folk Festival, Celtic Connections, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Festival Cornouaille, Festival Interceltique Lorient, Milwaukee Irishfest and Merlefest as well as appearing at many prestigious venues including the Kennedy Centre (Washington DC), New Yorks Symphony Space, Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, the Hollywood Bowl, Dublins National Concert Hall, the Cathedral of St John the Divine, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and many others. She has made many TV and radio appearances on both sides of the Atlantic and has been a frequent guest on nationally syndicated radio and TV shows such as Garrison Keillors A Prairie Home Companion and Mountain Stage.

      In 2009 Karan released her fifth solo album entitled Ships in the Forest on the Crow Valley Music label. Produced once again by Donald Shaw, this album focuses largely on the traditional repertoire.  "Exiles Return" a duet album with former Solas band-mate John Doyle was released to widespread critical acclaim in early 2010 and was named in the Top 5 albums of the year by The Irish Echo newspaper.  Over the past 2 two years Karan has: performed with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall; appeared on television with Imelda May and legends The Dubliners; toured in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden with the Celtic Super Night featuring Lunasa, Martin Hayes and Mirtn OConnor; guested with Spanish band Tejedor at the Festival Interceltique Lorient in France; toured Ireland and the US with Buille and toured in the US with John Doyle.

      Two More Hours is Karan's sixth solo album and her first entirely self-penned album. Contemporary in tone it takes a much more personal approach to her writing and singing. It features a duet with Irish chart-topper Mick Flannery as well as contributions from Abigail Washburn and Aoife O'Donovan and was produced by Niall Vallely. A departure from the traditional music she has focused on for many years Two More Hours draws on Karan's life-long love of R&B, Jazz and Blues in creating a vibrant new mix of sounds.  Vallely's string arrangements help meld together a stellar cast of Ireland's finest musicians from the worlds of Classical, Folk and Rock music including Ken Rice, Kate Ellis, Sean Og Graham, Trevor Hutchinson, Eoghan Regan, Danny Byrt and Caoimhn Vallely.

Band Members:
Karan Casey - Vocals and piano
Sean g Graham - guitar
Trevor Hutchinson - double bass
Kenneth Edge - sax

Band Members