Niall O’Brien: Songs In The Key Of Life

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Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 10.17.54Tralee singer/songwriter Niall O’Brien picks the music which has shaped his musical path…

David Gray – White Ladder

For me growing up there was never a real montage of music within my family tree but I do remember very vividly the first artist that tattooed a memory in both mind and soul, and it was around the Christmas of ’98 when David Gray catapulted into the sound waves with his album ‘White Ladder’.

My old man used to play that album every Christmas and it never got tired. ‘Babylon’ was like our ‘Fairytale of New York’ and by God we’d all sing it like we were in our very own drunk tank!

The Verve – Urban Hymns

It was 2002. I had just finished primary school and I had decided I wanted to grow up somewhat and get a job to earn some cash to invest in myself and maybe the odd pick n’mix in the local shop.

I cut grass all summer long and within the first week of working I had enough to purchase my first album. It was ‘Urban Hymns’ by ‘The Verve’. I remember hearing the strings of ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ kick in on the opening track and being absolutely deaf with euphoria.

The sounds Nick McCabe made on that guitar throughout and the soulfulness of Richard Ashcroft’s voice will always have a strong place in my heart.

Coldplay – ‘Live In Sydney 2003’

This is the band that as a teen if you sang one of their songs to a chick at lunch in the schoolyard they’d be weak at the knees, but the guys would have you weak in your stomach from taking your lunch money.

I bought their “Live in Sydney 2003” album whilst on a day trip with the folks in Cork City.

I couldn’t wait to get home and spin it on the 14” TV. And when I did and I witnessed Chris Martin and Co’s energy on that stage I was sold!! Picked up my very first guitar and learned to play that year.

They were the foundation to my career in music. What I admire about Coldplay is that they never play it safe. You got to have balls when it comes to putting your music out there and those guys have big cojones.

Joy Division/New Order – Temptation

I have a brother who once put his hand to the turntables when I was a teen. Dance music was upon me.

I even tried my hand at the vinyls but it was short lived. I heard New Order through this era in my life and was quick to research this intriguing band. Now don’t get me wrong New Order were good but you put Ian Curtis’ voice in with those guys and you got yourself a band that could be nothing less than greatness.

The Smiths – How Soon Is Now

All great bands have personality and you can’t get better than The Smiths.

I love when a band create their own definitive sound and The Smiths absolutely nailed it in the 80’s. You’d never know what you were going to get out of Morrissey’s mouth and I mean, come on, Johnny Marr’s guitar… the man just oozes class.

One of the most influential bands of our generation.

Jeff Buckley – Last Goodbye

If there was ever a guy that an artist would envy for his pure natural talent it’s got to be Jeff. The guy hit notes with his voice that the local choir girl would struggle with.

Not only could he sing but he had a style of play on the guitar that even Jimmy Page couldn’t help but be brought to tears when they first met. God only knows the boundaries that Jeff could’ve broken if he was still with us but what he left us with is simply inspiring.

I don’t use the term very much in music but Jeff is a “Legend”. Jeff is proof that in death we still live on.

Ray LaMontagne – Supernova

There have been so many great songwriters that have influenced me, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Noel Gallagher, to name but a few but one that really left a mark on me (literally as I have some of his lyrics tattooed on me) is Ray LaMontagne.

When I discovered his music I was so grateful. I remember researching him and not being able to find an interview online with this guy. He is a real humble and shy man that is slowly coming out of his shell a bit but that’s what I love about him.

It’s all about the music for Ray. A man that moved into his van to buy a Martin guitar in order to establish the sound he wanted has got to be admired.

I’m blessed to have music in my life and to be surrounded by it every day. To finally release my own music is something I dreamed of from a very young age and those dreams have finally come true for me. What lies ahead for me can only be justified by the work and commitment I put in and I’ll continue to do so as long as I’m above ground.

• Niall O’Brien has released his first song ‘Never Let You Down’ which is available to download on Sound Cloud. Click here

One Comment

  1. Lesley Harris says:

    We’ll done Niall!