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Amanda Shires is someone you simply can’t ignore and she’s back in Ireland 2014 to support her extraordinary new album “Down Fell The Doves”. She supported and accompanied husband, Jason Isbell, during his Dublin appearance late last year and now the Texas “Artist of the Year in 2011 is returning for a series of headline dates across the country.

Just in case the title alone wasn’t a dead give away, “Down Fell the Doves” is not a record for the faint of heart, faith or spirit. Not that anyone who heard her previous album would have expected such. “Carrying Lightning”, the critically acclaimed 2011 breakthrough that put Shires on the map as one of Americana music’s most arresting new voices (and Texas Music magazine’s 2011 Artist of the Year), was a tangled web of frayed heartstrings and combustible desire that revealed the one-time “little fiddle player from Lubbock” to be a grown woman unafraid to “get wrecked in love” and dish out the same with keen poetic insight and unnervingly mature, femme-fatale conviction. But as striking as Lightning was, “Down Fell the Doves” (Shires’ debut for Lightning Rod Records) is where the gloves really come off.

The album featured in many “best of 2013 ” lists. Featuring her expressive violin, ukelele and quivering vibrato, it was produced by Andy LeMaster (Bright Eyes, R.E.M.) and recorded in Athens, Georgia. Juxtaposing the, at times overwhelmingly grim emotional terrain, are songs that deliver just enough light to keep the shadows themselves on edge. Noting that “all of the songs are reflective of what I’ve been doing the last two years,” Shires — who was married Isbell in in early 2013 to coos unashamedly when asked about the tender-hearted “Stay.” “Oh, that’s a cute one,” she gushes playfully. “Pretty sappy, huh?” And then there’s the flirty but reverent “A Song for Leonard Cohen,” in which she fantasizes about “comparing mythologies” with her favourite songwriter over a drink or 12.

“This was the first record I’ve made where I really let the producer ultimately make the call of how things were going to go. I brought demos in — which was another first for me — but I just left a lot of stuff up to Andy, which worked well because we had a lot of the same ideas.”

Though not without its share of mood-enhancing embellishments, like the horns on “Stay” arranged by Shires and trombonist Chad Fisher, the sonic landscape of Down Fell the Doves is as haunted and provocative as Shires’ lyrics and melodies. Not to mention as rich with compelling contrasts, with the scrape and howl of Isbell’s guitars offsetting and perfectly complementing the delicate “drop and lift” of Shires’ quavering vibrato and almost supernaturally expressive violin — an instrument that, just like the devil’s in “Deep Dark Below,” “sounds like your deepest desire, lonely and bruised getting over being used.”

“It’s a lonesome instrument,” marvels Shires, who picked up her first violin at age 10, played Western swing music all through her teens (with the legendary Texas Playboys, no less) and continues to find new and interesting sounds on the versatile instrument that surprise even her. “I like the ways you can make it sound like wind, or fire, or … like wild. And I like that it can also be pretty”.

“But that’s not me,” she hastens to add with characteristic humility. “That’s the fiddle, because they’ve got their own minds. I just follow mine around and make sure it stays in one piece.”

“Languid and elegant …. marvellous songwriting” Daily Telegraph

“Shires is a damn talented and idiosyncratic song-writer…She is a fiddling maestro. At times her energetic, jittery vocals and eccentric lyrical subjects mark her out as a young female heir to the godfather of strange, Mr. Tom Waits. In her more conventional moments Shires sounds like the weird young niece of Dolly Parton.” Americana UK


Arctic Tern is the name 23 year old Belfast based musician Chris Campbell goes under. He released his debut EP in September 2013 with a sold out Belfast show. 2013 was a quiet introductory sort of year for Arctic Tern while he worked on his music, but he still gigged extensively with artists such as Frank Turner, Mick Flannery, Nathaniel Rateliff, Cold Specks and more, as well as his own headline shows here and in parts of Canada and America.

2014 has seen Arctic Tern go full-time at music. His second EP will be released in May and to coincide with this, a tour is being booked for May and June with dates confirmed in Ireland, England and at least 7 shows across Europe.


€12.50 available online from WAV Tickets [Lo-Call 1890 200 078] (50c per ticket service charge applies on phone, internet or creditcard bookings)

Strictly over 18′s, I.D. may be required


Whelan’s Indie DJ in the bar and Sonntags upstairs from 11pm til late, Free Entry.