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Formed from the core of the duo known as Berries Blue, The Hard Ground came together when Marlene Enright and Pat Carey decided they wanted their music to have a richer and more layered sound. Joined by Dave Duffy and Dave Ryan, whom they met while studying music in University College Cork, the Cork-based quartet soon got to work on a feast of songs, weaving together ambient arrangements and beautiful orchestration. After much deliberation, they decided on the name The Hard Ground, a tribute to a powerful book of poetry by legendary singer-songwriter and composer Tom Waits, whom Carey cites as a significant influence in the band’s music.

The Hard Ground, whose sound can best be described as folk-rock with strong undercurrents of blues, released their debut album, Broken Conversations, on Friday the 13th of July. It has been chosen as RTE Radio 1’s Album of the Week for the week beginning 13th August.

Broken Conversations is a beautiful collection of songs brimming with lush instrumentation and deep, swooning melodies. Making use of a vast range of instruments, including harmonium, glockenspiel and kazoo, the band acquired the services of a quartet from the National Symphony Orchestra and a brass section consisting of trombone, trumpet and euphonium for the recording of the album.

Broken Conversation’s lead single, ‘Pawn’, which was released on April 5th, is an infectious, plinky plonk rock track. ‘A Man, A God, A Woman’ and ‘Bad Faith’ are two tracks dripping with The Hard Ground’s signature sultry, bluesy tones, with Carey’s gravelly vocals reminiscent of those of Tom Waits. ‘Reckless’, while stripped-back and raw, highlights the enchanting and pure vocal tones of Enright, and boasts stunning piano flourishes and lyrics that will seep into your soul and resonate long after the song’s final notes have played out. Collectively, Enright and Carey’s beautifully layered and contrasting vocals make Broken Conversations a truly tantalising listen, helping to cement The Hard Ground as one of the finest new bands to emerge out of Ireland in 2012.

“ With Broken Conversations, The Hard Ground have laid robust foundations for the future..” – Craig Fitzpatrick, Hotpress

“ Pawn, the first track, is so addictive you are left wanting more – and what follows doesn’t disappoint” – Siobhan McGuire – The Sunday Times

“’Pawn’ and ‘A Spirit Lament’ show the Cork quintet are quite different from anyone else active on the Cork circuit at the moment with Carey and Enright effortlessly switching vocals on top of quite lavish orchestration. Eager to hear more….” – The G-Man (blog)

“….a sound that sits somewhere between Tom Waits and Lisa Hannigan. There’s even a touch of sinister songstress Anna Calvi about debut single ‘Pawn’, a song that’s equal parts sweet and sour.” – Celina Murphy, Hot press


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Whelan’s Indie/Electro Club w/ Late Bar from 10:30pm til late (FREE ENTRY).