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20 May 2022

Limerick singer-songwriter is getting back to ‘honest to goodness’ song writing

Limerick singer-songwriter is getting back to ‘honest to goodness’ song writing

Paul Dunworth sees himself as belonging to a modern, indie folk tradition but musically, he doesn’t recognise boundaries and categories | Pictures: Adrian Butler

LOVE, longing and resilience are the main themes of a new EP, Echoes, just released by West Limerick singer-songwriter, Paul Dunworth.

The five-track EP, which launched on Friday, is just part of Paul’s creative output during the Covid-19 pandemic but, Paul is quick to point out, the songs are not about lockdown.

“They are quite personal,” he explains.

But Covid has been kind to his creative instinct, and he has, he says with some satisfaction, a lot of new songs in his song-bank.

It did play havoc with some of his plans, however.

In early 2020, just before Covid took hold, Paul was on a bit of a roll, touring with his first EP Through the Forest. On March 1, 2020 he and his band performed in the famous De Barra’s in Clonakilty, having done a gig the previous night in another well-known spot, Levis in Ballydehob.

Two weeks later the country closed down. But now Paul, with the release of his new EP, is well placed to get back out there as society begins to feel its way towards the new normality. Some of the tracks have been released in advance as videos.

Robert’s Cove, for example, appeared before Christmas, conjuring up a small peaceful seaside spot in Cork that is special to Paul and his wife Robin, while Secrets of Imagination went out online last week.

All the tracks draw on memory and experience. A World of Dreams is a song Paul wrote after his late father appeared to him in a dream shortly after his death while two of the most evocative tracks, These Days and For Her, are love songs that reach into the heart.

“It’s like keeping a journal. It is documenting that part of your life but it doesn’t always have to be personal. It could be being creative with a story. I like to be honest. That is what I try to be, as honest as I can,” Paul says, explaining his approach to song-writing which only began after he returned to Newcastle West after many years of studying, living and working abroad.

But his musical journey began much earlier when, aged 15, an aunt gave him his first guitar. “I always loved playing,” Paul explains. “I spent my youth pretty much locked away, practicing.”

A year on a FETAC course in Cork led to a scholarship to the London Guitar Institute where he graduated with a degree. But during eight years in London, he never sang or never wrote. His idea had always been to link up with a singer but, back on home ground, he took instead to singing and then writing his own material. It was, in many ways, a case of “having to do it myself”.

He sees himself as belonging to a modern, indie folk tradition but musically, Paul doesn’t recognise boundaries and categories.

His own musical taste is eclectic, and he names groups/bands such as Ye Vagabonds, Bon Iver, The Breath, The Gloaming and Planxty as influences while he is also a fan of John Martyn, Neil Young, Andy Irvine, John Smith and Luke Kelly.

He loves playing the Blues too and has played a number of festivals around the country while for many years before Covid, he was a regular performer at the Cork International Jazz Festival. “I played a lot of electric stuff for years,” he reveals. “But I rarely play now.”

The resonance and versatility of acoustic guitar are the big draw now.

He is glad to be letting Echoes out into the world as his second EP and hopes to be able to tour it with some live gigs in the coming weeks and months.

Echoes is out on Bankcamp and YouTube now.

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