Conor O' Malley
When We Were Young (2021)
The Album cover was inspired by an original family photo - Arthur 'Man on Bridge 'Fields (Abraham Feldman), originally from a Ukrainian Jewish family who fled antisemitism in Kiev in the early 1900s and later settled in Dublin. He was a brilliant documentary photographer -
capturing the lives of thousands of people from all backgrounds as they went about
their ordinary lives through Dublin streets just like the one here.
So this is where the first songs began - an attempt to watch the camera zoom back
out, thinking about a time when your parents were starting out together, pre-kids,
Jobs, mortgages, life in the suburbs... also about the adventure of starting out in a
relationship - the celebrations, the joys, the hopes, the fears, the struggles, the love and loss that comes with that journey.
'Over the River’ became the first of these songs, written and recorded with my long-
time friends – ‘The Hit Parade’ partly in Derry and back in Dublin during the
lockdown; which was to eventually become the collection here 'When We Were
This was the initial inspiration for the album – to channel some of the energy of this wonderful photo, and also about a time and place; what was happening in the
in the country...
However songs have a way of taking on their own lives, the restrictive bars of metre,
the dream logic that takes over, half remembered stories, the lyrics becoming a
kaleidoscope reality, the imagination trying to convey the lost branches of a family
tree through the mist of time...
What’s left is maybe just a mix of the personal, political and the past to make some sense of the present...
Keep on Down the Road
Includes the single 'Oceans'; Inspiration behind the the mysterious nature of the deep, also essentially about the personal loss we all inevitably have to experience and fathom at different stages of our lives. How we cope with this and our resolve in dealing with losing the ones we love, may be perhaps the true measure of the human spirit.
The video of this song comes from New York Environmental Agency Parley for the Oceans.
Could there also be a possibility to use our abilities to create awareness around these issues as Writers, Artists, Musicians… Maybe this is what Kurt Vonnegut meant when he said we should be the eyes and ears of the creator. If nature is our creator, can using art as a message to bring consciousness around what we as individuals are capable of protecting. By creating music or art that carries some momentum in people’s minds it might continue to create more grassroots movements and people power to eventually go on to influence government legislation.
City and the Soul (2016)
Stand out tracks including 'Waiting for the light' and the single ‘Song for the Others’ - a spirited, energetic and ultimately hopeful song about the fallen women of Irelands past- victims of the Magdalen laundries.
In ‘Song for the Others’ O’Malley tells of “the road to hell with good intentions” and laments “no more mother’s tears again”. There are missed memories, passing trains, and people we can never forget; themes which have become a staple of his repertoire. Folk storytelling is alive alongside contemporary piano and strings, with vocal melodies rising heartfelt and passionate as the track crescendos in singalong bliss.
Dreamland Arcades (2014)
Conor O' Malley’s sublime new album “Dreamland Arcades” traces a path from the dark streets of his Dublin hometown to the neon lights and faded glories of English seaside towns. “Dreamland Arcades” is melting pot of melancholia and elation, isolation and warmth, a glance at the past and a glimpse at an uncertain future. It blends cultural elements from his Irish adolescence, via his experiences living in the USA where his psyche was marinated in Americana, to his experience of living in the seaside town of Southend on the English coast.
Treading the hallowed path in the tradition of great songwriting, formative touchstones Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits pointed the way forward, giving Conor the wherewithal to carve his particular sound.
-Hottwerk PR (Tony Pontius)
Dear Ghosts (2009)
'Dear Ghosts' takes you on a walk through the dark streets of Dublin. From the opening tone poem of 'Winterland'- the past and the present are weaved together in a atmospheric tapestry-past the old factories, abandoned buildings and cityscapes to the searching 'Ghost of Midnight'- all the way back to the mytical landscape of forgotten heroes and returned emigres in 'All the white horses'.
The album also deals in places with loss and alienation through 'Railway Man' which tells the story of a working man coming to terms with the passing of his son. 'Shining City' is a day in the life of a homeless man on the edge of living. In the songs there is also an attempt to depict the feel of places which are still rooted in the old world but are coming to terms with a transition into the modern.
There is a dark and illuminating tone of experiment throughout with a variation of styles that is the sound of an artist looking to find a voice through traditional song writing and the new tools of technology.
Conor O’Malley was born in Dublin. His music mixes melody, stories, poetry, autobiography, history and memory, to create a style of lyric documentary that is influenced by everything from family, friendship, culture, identity, to loss and the love of people and place.
In 2009 Conor released his debut 'Dear Ghosts' which was warmly received around Ireland followed up by the critically acclaimed ‘Dreamland Arcades’, after relocating to the UK. His experience of this time was recorded and further explored through the sounds of ‘City and the Soul’ in 2016 and the follow up ‘Keep on Down the Road in 2019.
Working with great live and studio Musicians over the years has given Conor the wherewithal to carve his own unique sound in multiple genres whilst collaborating with exciting talents along the way. The thread and tradition of great songwriting always the main focus of the projects.
At the heart and soul of Conor's live shows have been ever changing backing band 'the hit parade' providing long-lasting friendships and a spirit of collaboration that has emerged from a floating line including Phil Adams (Drums) and Conor Purcell (Bass & Guitar) at the helm of proceedings.
The reception to radio play, gigs, and festivals in the UK and recent shows in the Workmans Club and The Soundhouse in Dublin have shown that Conor's Music, and the Band’s timeless style, is finding a permanent place in peoples hearts.
The latest collection of songs is called 'When we were young' released in 2022...
Background Photos By: Monica Gorka