The Kaje talks “Sing” to Maria Doyle Kennedy

Regular readers of The Kaje will have no doubt grasped the notion that we feel Maria Doyle Kennedy is a musical gift from God. Having been foolishly unaware of Kennedy’s earlier recordings, our senses were awakened when we first received  a copy of “Am I Choosing Right”, the lead single to her sensational new album “Sing”, which is now a constant on the office stereo. Rather than waste time waxing lyrical, we will let Maria Doyle Kennedy speak for herself, after a taste of the track that whet our appetite….

You have managed over the years to garner success both as an actress and a musician-which passion came first?

I have been singing since I can remember (mostly in my bedroom as a way of explaining surly teenage-dom to myself) and I never spend a day without singing.

Have you, at any point along the way, had to prioritise one career path? if so, how did you reach that decision?

Music comes Before acting always. The children come before anything.

You are probably best known these days for your screen work-have you found increased success as an actress has opened pathways as a musician?


You have been working away on your latest album – “Sing” – can you tell us a little bit more about the record?

It’s the best thing we have made. It took some time but that’s ok, good things do. It’s a simpler, more  stripped back album than “Mutter”, focusing on the power of a voice and the beauty of a guitar.

The collaborations with John Prine, Damien Rice and Paul Brady were an extra slice of joy to add to the mix.

The album has been co-written with your husband Kieran, how well do you work together?

We work pretty seamlessly as we’ve been creating music together for a long time. We have built a way of working that suits us and that we don’t have to talk about…. Just do.

Over the years you have collaborated with a number of musicians-what is the secret to a successful collaboration?

I would only collaborate if I had a song or project that needed the particular talent (voice or instrument or whatever) that the other person had….. It’s important to know why you want to work with someone….what you are hoping to achieve.

What has been your favourite collaboration to date?

It was sort-of amazing to hang out and sing with John Prine for “Yes We Will” which is on “Sing”.

Who would it really excite you to be able to write with?

Mimi Parker from Low. One of the most beautiful voices in the world.

The lead single off “Sing” is “Am I Choosing Right”-how did you select this as the lead single?

I asked everyone what song they thought would be a good single …… I’m no good at choosing…… All the songs become like children to me and I find it hard to separate them.

What are your current goals with the music?

To get the world to hear “Sing”.

What else does 2012 have in store for you?

I think it’s just going to be “Sing”, “Sing” and more “Sing”-ing for the foreseeable future…. But that’s only good.

ALBUM REVIEW: Maria Doyle Kennedy “Sing”

Maria Doyle Kennedy questions “Am I Choosing Right” as she opens her fifth studio album “Sing”, and the immediate answer is a blissful, resounding YES! The Irish singer/songwriter may be better known as Mrs Bates in “Downton Abbey” and Katherine of Aragon in “The Tudors”, but her lush vocals have been making their mark in her home country since the late 80s, so it is about time that her lush vocals are celebrated the world over.

“Sing” is a subtle, simple recording that emanates beauty from start to finish. With guest vocals from Damien Rice (“Sing”), Paul Brady (“Hola Luna”) and John Prine (“Yes We Will”), Kennedy displays an ability to share the spotlight yet still shine.

While her compositions are tender and beautiful, her lyrics are often pressing and poignant. However, it is a reflective Kennedy who really makes her mark. The self-determination of “The Silence” raises the bar, only to be superseded by the wistful “Yes We Will”.

Kennedy boasts the radio friendliness of Damien Rice, the sensitivity of Eva Cassidy and  the heart of Shelby Starner, yet it is her inner Joni Mitchell that shines through. “Sing” is a well-written, well-produced, uplifiting album that ticks every box and so much more. Simply put, “Sing” is much more than beautiful.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

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