Orla Fallon has recently released a new album “Sweet By and By.” It’s a bit of a new direction for the singer, with a collection of hymns that have a very personal meaning to her. This touching release was inspired by some of her father’s favorite songs, and was a way to bring some comfort in dealing with his passing. I spoke with Orla about what this record means to her, as well as a little bit about her career, and whats next.
First, I want to say I love the album! It’s a warm dedication to your father. Can you tell the us a little bit more about it? Such as how it came to be?
I am delighted that you like the album! It means so much to me as this album is my most honest, most heartfelt album out of all the recordings I have done. My parents were always so encouraging of me and my music since I was a child. They were always very closely connected with the kind of songs I sang and my style of singing.
When my Dad passed away, I stopped singing. I just couldn’t sing my songs as my heart was broken. After a long time, I started listening to songs and gradually singing again. I met with Feargal and Ewan, the piano player and guitarist in my band, and when we started singing the songs it all felt so right.
It was a very emotional experience in the studio, but someone said to me that he could hear my Dad all over the album and then I knew we had done a good job.
Growing up, were you a fan of American folk / hyms as well, and were your parents an influence on what you listed to?
Growing up, I was steeped in all kinds of music. I got the traditional songs and stories from my Grandmother and then both my parents loved country music. We listened to cassettes all the time in the car! I also loved all the old hymns and used to sing every Sunday in church from a very young age.
“How Great Thou Art” is one of my all time favourite hymns. I love performing it now at concerts and it’s so powerful and uplifting to feel the audience singing along.
There are many interesting similarities between Americana and Celtic music. What do you think is the most striking similarity between these two different musical cultures?
For me the most striking connection between Americana and Irish Music is the fact that in both genres many of the songs are passed on orally, and are picked up from family members or listening to singers. The songs are deeply loved and passed on in this very natural way and this is how the tradition is kept alive. I also think that both genres really have that capacity to touch one’s heart and soul. One can’t help but hear those beautiful melodies and lyrics and be moved.
As an harpist, how much do you think the instrument has affected the way you arranged the songs on this album?
I actuality played very little harp on this album. Usually most of the arrangements would start with the harp but not in this album. I stepped away from the harp and really let my voice speak for itself.
When doing cover, do you prefer to stay as close as possible to the originals, or do you prefer to give your own spin to the tracks?
When doing cover songs, of course it’s very important to me to stay true to the integrity of the song, but I always like to put my own slant on it, to try to make it my own.
Are you planning on touring live, or playing various dates in support of your new release?
I have done some concerts here in Ireland with the new album and have really enjoyed performing the songs. They actually cry out to be performed. I would really love to do some concerts in The US with these songs. They are great, great American songs and I would be privileged to bring my take on them to an American audience.
In your career, you went from being a member of a band to working as a solo artist. What is the biggest difference between the two settings?
I was very blessed to be part of such a hugely successful group as a Celtic Woman. I learned so much and had so many incredible experiences. The production values were amazing and I loved my time with the group. I went from being part of an organisation where everything was taken care of to having to be much more hands on myself.
Were you apprehensive on making the decision to leave Celtic Woman?
It was both scary and exciting though to leave the group and try to forge my own career path. It was nice to strip back the sound and have a more earthy sound. I loved getting the chance to try new things and work with different people so it’s all been good.
Do you have any plans for 2018 that you can share with us?
I really hope to do get out and do concerts with the new album in 2018!
Thank you so much for taking some time to speak with us, is there anything else you’d like to tell the fans?
I would like to thank my fans for their continued support and friendship over the past 12 years. They have been amazing and I love making new Music and bringing it to them.