Lost Bees: A superb debut from Irish supergroup Roamer

These fine musicians are willing to take their instruments into unexplored territories

Lost Bees
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Artist: Roamer
Genre: Jazz
Label: Diatribe Records

Why has it taken Roamer so long to get around to recording their gorgeous debut album? The clue is in the name. Though the members of this creative music supergroup all hail from Dublin, all have made homes for themselves in different cities across Europe. They all just happened to be home for a visit at the same time back in July 2016 and came together for what proved to be two rapturously received concerts in Arthur’s Jazz Club in Dublin’s Liberties.

The levels of trust and empathy between these four friends who had come up through the burgeoning Dublin jazz scene in the 2000s – vocalist Lauren Kinsella, saxophonist Matthew Halpin, guitarist Simon Jermyn and drummer Matthew Jacobson – were evident from the start and so, every year since then, usually when they are home for Christmas, Roamer have reunited and gradually honed their unique, post-genre sound.

Their low-key annual gigs have acquired cult status, required listening for anyone who wants to hear where the music formerly known as jazz is headed in 21st century. So it would be fair to say that a recording was overdue.

If there is a common thread in this quartet of starkly individual musicians, it’s that each has shown a willingness to take their instrument into unexplored territory.


Kinsella’s daring vocalisations, mixing literary texts and wordless improv, have won admirers and awards in London with her own groups, Snowpoet and Blue-Eyed Hawk. Halpin’s 2021 debut Agreements, released in his home city of Cologne, announced a fresh and searching voice on the European scene. Simon Jermyn has spent the past two decades virtually redefining the role of the guitar, playing with the cream of the fertile Brooklyn scene before recently relocating to Berlin.

Jacobson, the only Roamer to move back to Dublin after a stint in New York, is one of Ireland’s most inventive drummers, performing with his own groups ReDiviDeR and Origin Story, and with sonic adventurists like saxophonist Chris Engel’s Big Spoon and avant folkster Anna Mieke.

Add London-based Irish poet Cherry Smyth’s evocative, enigmatic texts, which form the basis for Kinsella’s lyrics, and you have a profoundly original sound, “an outcrop in gravity’s line”, to borrow a phrase from Smyth’s poem In The Same Sphere, which closes the album.

Lost Bees is just one of eight excellent, beautifully presented releases this summer from uber-creative Dublin label Diatribe. It is an extraordinary record in the true sense of the word, full of meaning and mystery, unafraid of risk, at times unsettling, a joyous challenge to musical orthodoxy. Fans will be hoping it doesn’t take these roamers so long to record a follow-up.

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a musician, writer and director