Conor Walsh – a Mayo man who operated with huge niche acclaim on the periphery of a Dublin music scene almost too boisterous to fully grasp his appeal – is to get a posthumous album release of music recovered from his laptop.
Walsh was a country boy besotted with open space and fishing, but was making an unlikely breakthrough into the heart of the Dublin music scene a few years ago. He suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack at the age of 36 whilst at home cooking with his family.
His debut EP, ‘The Front’ had been accompanied by shows at a number of major Irish festivals. friends of Walsh – many of whom have gone on to be influential in Irish music in their own right – had an inkling that he was working on something a bit special in his isolated Mayo farmhouse.
This writer was lucky enough to catch Walsh live several times. His style wasn’t so much that of hooking a room from the first, but one of languid visuals and beautifully slow-building melodies, somehow evoking meaning with little more than a keyboard in the corner of captivated rooms.
Conor’s audiences were in the low hundreds, normally, though he had the ability to quieten a lively Friday night bar in a couple of songs as, one-by-one, his gentle music drew people in. It’s easy to be misty-eyed and nostalgic towards people once they’re gone, but it was clear from the off the Walsh was going to be something big. Critics were already purring.
A couple of years before the release of ‘The Front’, he sent me an early demo of one of the songs from the EP, a gentle, soulful melody that he insisted it was fine to preview for a small blog project. It was, in effect, a soft-launch single. I pointed out to Conor that he could probably launch a new track to far more acclaim, but to him it wasn’t really about that: he liked the project, and that was enough.
In some sense, ‘The Lucid’, the posthumous release, will be a strange record. No one’s completely sure it is quite what Walsh intended. It’s been pulled together from a larger collection of finished tracks found after a friend eventually guessed an obscure fishing-term used as his laptop password.
The album has been worked on solely by people close to Walsh, however, so under the circumstances, it’s the best that can be done.
While a very different kind of artist, the circumstances of the release are reminiscent of Mic Christopher, close friend of The Frames, who slipped to his death down a stairway on tour, whilst on the brink of the mainstream.
Walsh will never know this album came to be, of course, but those who knew him best insist it’s what he would have wanted. As a tribute, the ten-track release is a great way to remember the man three years after he passed.
As his sister Fiona explains, “this album is for his fans, and by creating this album with his close friend and mentor, Enda Bates who was the producer of Conor’s first EP ‘The Front’, and Rob Farhat who previously worked with Conor.
“We wanted to remind people of all the different aspects of Conor; as a brother, friend, composer, and artist. The subtle approach to this album will leave his fans in awe of his simplistic beauty.”
There was always a delicate, morose side to what Walsh did, one that just added to the beauty of his output. With the circumstances around ‘The Lucid’, the depth of loss serve to highlight his curtailed brilliance.
The Conor Walsh album ‘The Lucid’ will be released with a party at The Sugar Club, Dublin on March 15, as well as in his native Swinford, County Mayo on March 16.