David Howley: For Venus – Reflective solo debut reveals another side of We Banjo 3’s most extrovert member

Howley reveals his personal vulnerabilities through a swathe of finely honed, often delicate songs

For Venus
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Artist: David Howley
Genre: Singer/Songwriter
Label: Independent release

The space and time threaded through this solo debut from David Howley of We Banjo 3 speaks of what might have been a welcome if unexpected interlude from the band’s high-octane touring schedule.

This is a collection that’s all about reflection and renewal, with Howley willing to reveal his personal vulnerabilities through a swathe of finely honed, often delicate songs. The title track is an intriguing meditation on the heat and sometimes unfiltered foolhardiness of love, set against a spacious backdrop of upright bass, languorous beats, deep-throated fiddle and guitar. Howley’s vocals set forth on most of these tracks with equal parts indolence and elegance, exploring wide open horizons that are cinematic in scale, summoning images of Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas.

Spare backing vocals from Woven Kin (Siobhán Moore and Aisling Urwin) bring further colour and shade of the subtlest kind, grounded by Moore’s steady hand as producer. At times the dreamy soundscape hints at the potential for some of these songs to wend their way into a club setting, in the vein of Everything But the Girl’s Missing.

Such low-key confidence is a thing of rare beauty in this newly cacophonous world. Howley’s introspective mood speaks of an authentic exploration of self, and his solo debut points to a richly creative period that he has embraced to the full. All of which augurs well for this album’s transition to live performance.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts