Conchúr White: Swirling Violets – Indie earworms that sound better with each listen

The Armagh musician’s gambit is an early contender for Irish debut album of the year

Swirling Violets
    
Artist: Conchúr White
Label: Bella Union

It may still be very early days, but the Armagh singer-songwriter Conchúr White has laid down a serious marker for Irish debut album of the year with Swirling Violets, a collection of indie earworms that sound better with each listen. As with all debuts, there are clear influences – mostly American – but the 11 tracks share, plus or minus, White’s ability to harness language, ringing guitars and melody to lure you into his world of young love, ambition and angst.

“I like surreal settings, but with tangible messages,” White has said. “There wasn’t a conscious theme, though the songs operate in the same sort of space, that sense of surrealism. There’s ghosts, there’s other worlds. There’s a cosmic feeling, questions about the beginning and the end and dreams. And then there’s simpler songs, love songs about the feelings of infatuation you have when you’re young.”

Ah, young love. White’s track 501s, encased in layered vocals and jangling guitars, is an affecting distillation of that fleeting period in time: “You were everything I ever needed.” The fear of failure haunts the infectious I Did Good Today, while Fawn seduces with its bittersweet chorus. But all bow to the opening track, The Holy Death, a real banger laced with a dark swagger. The quieter tunes, such as the evocative title track, are slower, more uneven burns, but, taken together, this is a very impressive and well-balanced debut.