Galway’s Regan keeps it simple

Niamh Regan should not to be missed in 2017, says the Irish Times.


Music Notes / By Colleen Taylor

Galway Girls strike again. Niamh Regan is latest to captivate the ears of Ireland’s folk music scene. Upon releasing her self-titled EP in March of this year, the young Galway native is beginning to build a promising career for herself. Her voice already sings well beyond its years. Regan offers stand-out vocals and elegant arrangements.

Niamh Regan earned her credentials at the University of Limerick, where she studied with prominent musicians in the traditional and folk genres—both of which have influenced her own music. Her principal influences include both traditional Irish music giants and American ones: Paul Brady, Tom Waits, and most fittingly, Sarah Jarosz, who might wind up being more of a contemporary for Regan than a looming figure. Since the release of her single, “She,” in 2016, Regan has received positive reviews in the UK and Ireland. She was named as an artist not to be missed in 2017, by the Irish Times.

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What I like about Regan is that she slows things down, keeps it wonderfully simple. The singer is happy to stick to her vocals and a soft guitar accompaniment. Her vocals are often subdued, unornamented. She oscillates from lilting to out right speaking some her lyrics, which creates a lovely effect. It’s as if, when you listen to her music, she’s sitting there in your living room with you, casually improvising a song you asked her to sing. Her soft, whispery, spoken vocals create a beautiful, familiar, and warm effect. The most exquisite examples of this are the two best tracks on her EP: “She” and “Come Down.” Folk fans will lap these songs up. They stick to the creed of the folk style while also being playfully innovative. “Come Down” builds rhythmically, mixes traditional Irish styles with soulful blues. “She” is the song for which Regan is best known. This track is more like a lullaby and shows how Regan can achieve the power of a belt with nothing more than a soft lilt. Listen to these two tracks, and you’ll see Regan has something delightful to offer folk music.

As her EP evinces, Regan is still exploring, still experimenting. She is, after all, at the very origins of her career. Her final track, “It’s Over,” for instance, is slightly supernatural. When I hear it, I can’t help but be reminded of “The Wizard of Oz” soundtrack, and I’m not quite sure if that’s the desired result. A couple other tracks include little electro inflections, but thankfully, Regan is, for the most part, strictly folk and acoustic. She seems to know where her voice shines, and that’s in the quiet in-betweens of the strum of guitar strings.

Regan recently came stateside and played a few small gigs in LA, but for now, she’s sticking to the Irish circuit. She played a number of pub gigs on the west coast of Ireland this summer and a few in Dublin and Cork as well. Still, her headline at Body&Soul evinces her name’s weight in Ireland as well as her burgeoning popularity. The EP, available on Spotify, proves that Niamh Regan’s is a talent that can’t, and won’t, be overlooked.