All Along the Wild Atlantic Way with Aoife Scott

by Kerry Dexter /
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Oct 17, 2016 / 0 comments

Aoife Scott's debut album, Carry the Day, shows a songwriter and singer with a voice of distinctive character, an ear for good story, and the ability to bring these together in ways that draw the listener in, and invite repeated listenings.

All Along the Wild Atlantic Way with Aoife Scott

Scott opens things up with the song All Along the Wild Atlantic Way, using word and melody to paint a lively, loving, and memorable story of place. Scott says this is her favorite song to perform live, "and I can't help but smile when I sing it," she writes in her notes for the album.

It is a song Scott wrote herself along with her frequent songwriting partner Enda Reilly. The pair wrote half the songs on the album, among them Slan Leat, which is in Irish. Scott, who is fluent in Irish, describes it as a well wishing and goodbye song "but not sad, as it implies we'll meet again some time soon." The song Gypsy Warrior pays tribute to a friend whose courage and resilience inspires Scott, while Eleanor Ambrose, written by Adrian Lawlor, tells about an inspiring woman who lived in Ireland in the 1700s. "This is one of the first songs I chose when I decided to become a full time singer," Scott says. "It jumped out to me as it's got a powerful historical story."

In fact, it took Scott a time to come to the conclusion that a career as a full time singer was for her. At first, she thought she'd rather be behind the scenes. She took a degree in digital production and worked as an editor and production manger in television. In part her decision was a coming back to music. "I am incredibly lucky to come from a family of singers, and my childhood was spent listening, learning and being inspired," Scott wrote in seeking support from FundIt backers to raise money needed to record the album. Her mother is renowned singer Frances Black, and her aunt is international superstar Mary Black. Her uncles, several of her cousins, her brother Eoghan, and other members of her family also work in music.

Eoghan, in fact, is part of Carry the Day: he plays guitar and dobro and sings backing vocals, and co-produced the album with his sister. He wrote one of the songs, too, inspired by places he and Aoife used to visit in the San Francisco area when they went to see their uncle Michael, who lives there. Eoghan had recorded the song, Deep Dark Water, in a rock version, but Aoife takes it in a folk and country direction. 

There's another way Eoghan is present on the album: his marriage to his wife Emma was the spark behind the song Fasaim, which Aoife and Enda wrote. At first Aoife was a bit disconcerted but came to realize "Nothing had changed really-- he was still my brother! So I wrote this song about Eoghan and Emma getting married up on beautiful Rathlin Island and about how instead of losing my brother, I gained a gorgeous lovely sister. We're lucky ducks!" 

Scott's has a strong voice, which she also turns at times to a delicate edge -- there are many colors in her singing. Her take on Briege Murphy's song, The Hills of South Armagh, which tells the story of mixed emotions of an Irish person now living in New York, is an excellent place to listen out for that. Listen out for the subtle harmony vocals in the background, too: they come from family. In addition to Eoghan,  Aoife's cousin Roisin O, her uncle Martin Black, her aunt Mary Black and her mother Frances Black all back her up on this song and at various other points on the recording.

The instrumental backing through the album is just as fine. Among those joining in are Floriane Blancke on harp, frequent touring band member Conor Lyons on guitar, banjo, and bouzouki, Michelle O'Brien on fiddle, and James Blennerhassett on bass. Andrew Meaney of the band The Full Set  -- he's the man in the video of All Along the Wild Atlanic Way, in case you were wondering -- plays guitar on that track, too.

It took Scott a while, once she'd decided to make music her career, to decide the time was right to make an album. She toured for a year as a member of The Outside Track, a band which brings together Canadian, Scottish, and Irish music strands. As a solo artist fronting her own trio, her Irish language skills saw her representing Ireland in the international Minority Language music competition, Liet International, in Italy. She has recorded music for television programs and documentaries as well. In London, the trio won out in a field of more than one thousand acts for the chance to play a support slot for Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. During all this time Aoife had been collecting songs and building her songwriting skills as well. The time was right for an album.

Carry the Day is an album of stories, stories well told and thoughtfully presented by musicians who clearly know, and love, what they are about. It is Aoife Scott's voice and vision which centers and illuminates the project. As she was seeking funding to support the recording, "My whole life has been lit up by music," she wrote. "Songs are stories, be it of love, loss, discovery or passion. A singer's job is to touch the listener's heart, to become a part of their soundtrack, to reflect the times we live in and to inspire change. I want to make an album that does just that."

With Carry the Day, indeed she has done so.


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Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site Music Road