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Ceol Anocht: Interview : Nealo (19/10/2020)

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the singles that Nealo has released this past while on Ceol Anocht (kicking off in 2018 with the debut EP “October Year’) and so was really looking forward to hearing a full album. It did not disappoint and I was as much impressed as enraptured. It takes the particular and personal and weaves it in to the universal, like all great art. The grooves wrap themselves around the words and it’s a heady mix at times.

On ‘”All The Leaves Are Falling’, Nealo wears his art and influences lightly but it’s his voice and lyrics that beguile. Nothing is forced and you know exactly whee you are iwht who you ar from the first track in. The extra special ingredient is the spoken word interludes, a device that doesn’t seem forced, fitting perfectly in to the flow of the album and add in another deeply personal aspect. It’s this honesty and truth telling that appeals. As a listener of a certain age, I hear echoes of Gil Scott Heron’s final album (“I’m New Here”) and the very best of Stevie Wonder’s run of 70’s albums that are both personal and commentary on that time.

He says himself:

All The Leaves Are Falling’ is an album about loss. Not just about a loss of life, although that is a theme that is visited throughout this record. I wanted to write about leaving. About leaving Ireland, about leaving a relationship, and ultimately about leaving this earth. These are themes which are often looked at in a negative light. But these are things that every single one of us has gone through. Emigration, breakups, and the death of loved ones have all been an integral part of Ireland, and of the wider world for generations.

I was born on the first day of spring. From an early age I knew that I felt things deeply. I took losses harder than others, and carried them with me. I thought about losing people from very young. I didn’t have a morbid fascination or anything, but more so a hyper emotional reaction to everything around me. The music I listened to was always a little sadder, or a little angrier. I always carried a little too much emotion into every relationship, for better and worse. ‘All The Leaves Are Falling’ is my way of channeling as much of my emotions as I can into a piece of music. This is my journey through the seasons of life in the form of ten tracks.”

His collaborators also need to be mentioned: Uly, producer Adam Garrett and Molly Sterling add many fine touches and underpin the power of the many musical moments; the recent single “Let Your Dreams Collect Dust Until You’re Desperate” also features Jehnova (Nuxsense).

I caught up with Nealo in the lead up to the release and we chatted back and forth about it and the route, musical and personal, to the album.

As you’ll hear we do ramble a little (mainly me), but you get a sense of someone who has come to a place of a definite artistic assertion. Along with his collaborators he as produced, for me, one of the albums of the year.


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