Mark Geary comes to Galway on the back of a whirlwind albumJune 28, 2012 - 7:00am
Mark Geary makes a welcome return to Galway when he plays upstairs in Róisín Dubh on Friday, July 13. The Dublin born, New York based singer has just released his fifth studio album Songs About Love, Songs About Leaving. The album was recorded in Manhattan in just two weeks, and Mark explains what drove the project.
“What would it be like to just have the bare bones of an idea of a song, go in at 11 o’clock in the morning and by 12 that night have a recorded song?” he says. “That was the template or ideal for making the record.”
“Also, with the musicians that I got, they’re all waiting,” he adds. “We recorded it eyeball to eyeball, in the room. The drummer’s waiting to go, he’s got to go at 4 o’clock, so there’s this real urgency about the performance of the song.”
This intense burst of writing and recording meant that the muse was rarely away from Mark.
“A song like Take Me Home was done on the subway, I just had a phrase and thought ‘wow, that’s gorgeous’,” he recalls. “A lot of the songs, as quickly as it takes to sing them, that’s how they wrote themselves.”
The title for Geary’s latest album came to him during a conversation he had with a friend.
“We were having this chat about music; we were talking about Dylan and Nick Drake and stuff,” Mark says. “I said ‘what kind of music do you like’ and she said ‘I like songs about love and songs about leaving’. I thought, what a line – I do that!”
One of the songs that first jumps out at you from the album is That’s What They All Say, a toe-tapping gem that recalls classic songwriters like Cole Porter. A scene-stealing Jenna Nichols duets with Mark on the track.
“I was really into the idea of having this featured voice that wasn’t mine,” he says. “I write sad songs that are plaintive, and I thought well, here’s another colour. And I suppose the Cole Porter – I did want a classic duet kind of thing. And also, the lyrics are kind of a plea to a loved one: ‘it’s late in the darkness and I’m writing.’”
“A phenomenal, old-school, almost like this jazzer, Billie Holiday type of singer,” he says about Nichols. “I almost wrote it for Jenna, with her in mind, that she would be able to sing this. Anything that can be done in a different way – whatever way the spark happens.”
Another singer who guests on Songs About Love, Songs About Leaving is Glen Hansard, an old friend of Mark’s who has joined him on stage many times. Mark attended the Broadway premiere of Once, which recently won 9 Tony awards.
“I got to know a lot of the cast,” he says. “Steve, who plays ‘The Guy’, as he’s called in the notes – he wanted to meet me because he needed to go off and find some Irish songwriter who basically wasn’t Glen, and try and copy his style and clothes sense. Which I find so completely hilarious – my clothes sense is I get up in the morning and whatever’s on the floor, I’ll put on!”
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.