As mentioned previously in my coverage of Hard Working Class Heroes 2016, more than any other culture it seems, the Irish have music in their blood. We expect siblings and other family members, regardless of heritage, to naturally come together with the most beautiful harmonies. The gift of growing up with music in the house, a tradition that goes back many generations in most Irish families, seems to have ensured that virtually anyone can get together and make a joyful, wonderful noise.
That’s exactly what has happened with Irish folk rock group Orchid Collective. Four musicians from various locations on the Emerald Isle, all having plenty of practical experience in their previous bands, came together to form this new group. From an informal conversation I had with the fellas after their Accents Café appearance during HWCH In the City, I understood they bonded over a love of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Hmm, things suddenly have become a lot clearer! I was deeply impressed by their acoustic performance that afternoon. As we all know, not all bands can pull off a stripped back performance beautifully and with aplomb. It’s even more amazing for a band who claim to have only been together for about a year.
The quartet recently self-released a new EP, ‘Courage’. This four-pack of songs were recorded in Dublin’s Westland Studios and at the studio of producer Rob Kirwan, who’s worked recently with Irish superstar and past HWCH participant Hozier, Editors and PJ Harvey. The EP begins confidently with the title track, confronting the courage needed to step away from a dying relationship. Lead guitarist Shea Tohill’s plaintive guitar notes are the perfect foil to David O’Shea’s lead vocals and the smoky quality of the band’s harmonies.
Orchid Collective do the gentle, evocative, yet grand folk sound, something Fleet Foxes made famous nearly a decade ago, well. Interestingly though, they also show the potential for a harder, fuller rock direction on this EP too. The understated drumming on ‘Tomorrow’ are in stark contrast with the sharp guitar lines in the bridge, before the vocals and instrumentation with a psychedelic bent return. ‘Waiting on the Sun’ fully showcase the group’s harmonies, building towards a crescendo at the song’s conclusion. Wholly satisfying.
Both of the band’s HWCH 2016 sets on the Thursday ended with EP closer ‘Blindfold’. The lyrics compare love to both luck and a fire. Seems pretty accurate, given how surprising and unpredictable love can be, and how passion burns when the fire of love is lit. While the verses O’Shea sings are relatively simplistic, when accompanied with the richness of the band’s instrumentation, these songs can soundtrack a world only you can imagine. Less is definitely more for Orchid Collective.
‘Courage’, the new EP from Irish folk rock group Orchid Collective, is out now; stream the EP below. For more on the band, reach through TGTF’s current archive on them that includes both of their appearances at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016.