A stalwart of the contemporary Irish singer-songwriter scene, Lisa O’Neill has wielded taut emotion, deft lyricism, and a methodical grasp of melody throughout her career. Latest album Pothole in the Sky affirms this with ease, and ahead of a show in Whelan’s tomorrow evening, we caught up with the Cavan native for a quick Q&A.
I’ve seen few artists with such a natural command of the stage as you have. Has this kind of stage presence always come so easy to you?
Somedays I’m in the right kind of form to be on stage. Allot can change from gig to gig.
Do you remember what first led you to pick up a guitar and then keep it up?
Yes. At aged fourteen after leaving the local marching band ‘the Castletara Youth Band’ as a whistler, I followed my older brother John to guitar lessons. I started singing then too and I’m still at it cause it’s really very enjoyable.
When it comes to songwriting do you believe in divine inspiration or the hard slog?
Both but I wouldn’t word it that way. I work with my inspirations. I’ve never found this kind of work a slog!
Do you ask for many second opinions when it comes to your music?
No not many. The people I play music with and the odd close friend .
From touring with the likes of David Gray to wedged into a corner of Walsh’s in Stoneybatter, what are your favourite kind of gigs to play?
I enjoy them all most of the time. I like small rooms. I like venues which sound natural. I don’t like bright rooms or new rooms.
What changed for you between the release of Same Cloth in 2013 and Pothole in the Sky last year?
I found a wonderful manager. I toured plenty and myself and the band had a great old time. I wrote my third album.
I’ve heard you say that you believe your first album was slightly rushed. Do you stand by all of your songs or are there some you’re no longer fond of?
I wouldn’t say I’m not fond of any of my songs but there are a few from early writing which can feel to me like they’re from another life and so I don’t find it so easy to identify with them today, so I’m reluctant to perform them.
What advice would you give to any young singer songwriters and musicians just starting it out in their careers?
Keep digging. We’ve plenty inside us.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m filling in my application for the Rose of Tralee this week.