Traditional music and song were as much part of Maranna McCloskey’s childhood and adolescence as Top of the Pops and Smash Hits – so it’s no great surprise that Maranna’s debut album draws heavily on her early exposure to Irish balladry. ‘At Last’ pays a debt to that traditional influence, but the album demonstrates a coming of age with an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary songs.
Maranna displayed real talent for singing as a child and regularly attended fleadhs and seisiúns, but it was only during her mid-teens that she realised she also had a gift for song and melody writing. When she was still a student, Maranna was asked to join local traditional band, Óige with whom she performed at numerous music festivals throughout Europe and shared the stage with traditional luminaries such as Sharon Shannon and Davy Spillane.
Like so many, Maranna left her Dungiven home (in 2001) to spend a year in Australia. On a visit to Fraser Island, she was moved to compose a song based on the aboriginal history of the island. Realising she missed writing and performing, she was prompted to record a 4-track EP and won two Irish American News ‘Top Tir’ awards: Best Female Newcomer 2002 and her own composition, ‘Fraser Island’ was named Vocal Cut of the Year 2003.
When she returned home, Maranna bought a house and joined the University of Ulster as a clinical trials technician. Even though domesticity beckoned, Maranna still harboured a desire to record a solo album. As luck would have it, she was invited to sing at a St. Patrick’s Day concert in San Diego with The Brian Baynes Band, Eric Rigler and The San Diego Symphony Orchestra – one of the leading orchestras in the US. Experiencing the buzz of the music industry again and feeling too young to ‘settle down’, she decided to sell her house to finance the recording of a full length solo album with producer Brian Baynes.
While Maranna herself admits that selling her house is a bit of a gamble, it is not a complete leap in the dark – “Having performed in front of receptive audiences all over the world, I knew that I had to take this risk. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to record the album, I wouldn’t have had the finance or the confidence – but now I know that I don’t want to waste my talents and I want to express sentiments that resonate with my audiences.”
This solo debut demonstrates that as an artist, Maranna has matured into a songwriter of considerable depth and as a vocalist she has grown into her gift with new found confidence.
She says, “It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to record some of my favourite folk songs as well as my own material and I hope I have created music that is universal in its appeal. I look forward to performing these songs to live audiences as it is truly exhilarating to see how an audience responds to my lyrics and voice.”
This album is the fruit of a lot of labour and represents Maranna’s growth and maturity. Touching, melodic, memorable, emotive – all words that describe, but don't fully capture the sound of ‘At Last’.
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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