“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is a band leader whose distinctive voice and single-minded vision illuminate an intriguing record with a tale called “Brave Warrior EP” out on London/Irish label Dimple Discs which is shaping up to be Velvet Sheep’s label of the year, coming hot on the heels of an instrumental opus by Dragon Welding and a career watermark for Cathal Coughlan.
Keeley who gives the band her name, has a long-running and widely read blog called “The Keeley Chronicles which details a notoriously unsolved murder of a Munich backpacker Inga Maria Hauser in Northern Ireland in 1988. On the back of the blog Keeley has worked closely with Northern Irish police, senior politicians and Inga’s legal representatives in Northern Ireland in concerted efforts to advance and resolve the case, but not just that, her music is symbiotically tied in too, with every song on the “Brave Warrior EP” dedicated to, influenced by, and about Hauser. This singularity of purpose is confirmed by Keeley’s statement “Inga is the subject of everything I write. From the moment I first read about her exactly five years ago now, her cause became a burning obsession for me. Since that day I haven’t written a song about anyone or anything else… I consider myself a concept artist and my purpose is to give Inga a voice”.
It’s a quite remarkable modus operandi, and despite the heaviness of the backdrop, the music is soaringly uplifting at times, as keenly motivated and incisive as its creator. It’s dreamy indie pop, where the dreams are in fact a waking nightmare. Keeley has all the collared-up attitude of Billy Nomates, and a voice as powerful and haunting as her sadly missed compatriot Dolores O’Riordan, and if “The Glitter and the Glue” and its extended play mates are anything to go by, this could be the start of a glittering legacy. Welcome to Velvet Sheep, Keeley…
After a 2020 debut single “Last Words”, “Brave Warrior EP” features Dublin based Keeley on vox and guitars, plusMarty Canavan on keyboards, Martin Fagan on bass and Pete Duff on drums. It was produced and engineered by Alan Maguire, who mixed it together with Keeley, and mastered by Anthony Chapman (Franz Ferdinand, DEVO, Cathal Coughlan, Jesus Jones, Wolfhounds). It’s out now digitally with a physical release promised later on this year and an LP penned in for next year, which may or may not contain any of these songs, since Keeley is by her own admission and volition a prolific songwriter not short on an idea or three.
Here’s the almost 8-bit pixel glitchy photofit cover of the titular “Brave Warrior”.
When I asked the Dimple Discs PR for Keeley to pick a tune for our feature I instantaneously received a thrilling reply that it would totally appeal to her inner music aficionado and I was not disappointed by the result (even if it was a cheeky two-fer offer). So without further ado, here are Keeley’s “song(s) for ewe”…
“I have two!
Waterfall by Wendy & Lisa
I Say Nothing by Voice of the Beehive
I heard these two songs for the first time only in the last few months, although I’ve since learned that they were released in 1987 and 1988 respectively. I’m OBSESSED with those two years (especially the year 1988) so that only served to stir my interest further.
Another link between the two tracks is that I heard both on the same Indie radio station – 8Radio, the only designated station for Indie/Alternative music in my native Republic of Ireland. I listen to radio all the time (I literally listen to music 20 hours a day because I work 20 hours a day!) and I love how radio acts as a gateway to discovery. Both tracks are amazing – dramatic, romantic and drenched in pure pop gloss, with a beautifully bittersweet undercurrent to sufficiently sour the sweet.
Yet another link between the two songs is the fact they’re both by all-female duos, which is somewhat of a rarity in itself. Wendy and Lisa I’ve learned were part of Prince’s band, and he’s arguably the greatest all-round musician EVER so they must have sensational chops as that cat wouldn’t tolerate anything less than perfection. Voice of the Beehive meanwhile were Power-Pop princesses who made one incredible album – 1988’s Let It Bee – but then seem to have suffered death by A&R and overproduction. Fancy that eh? The perils of major label life! The moral of the story? Indie artists need to be on Indie labels. Bliss-out!”
THANKS SO MUCH TO KEELEY AND TO NICK CLIFT AT DIMPLE DISCS
You can get the “Brave Warrior EP” here on Bandcamp…
I’m featuring “The Glitter and The Glue” in the latest episode of the Velvet Sheep radio show which you can find on Saturday 7-9pm on https://www.repeater-radio.com/
And just in case you missed the recent “songs for ewe” from Keeley’s band mates, here they are: