“Beautiful songs, beautiful voice” Ralph McLean, BBC Radio Ulster
“Such is the power of Ciara’s voice, and her stories, the music is required to be subtle and gentle. A beautiful and oddly sinister collection of songs” Rigsy, Daily Mirror NI/BBC Radio Ulster
“Give yourself to the arrow/Give yourself to the spark/Give yourself to peace and love/And things that break your heart,”
The last six plus years have been quite the journey for Portadown-bred songsmith Ciara O’Neill. Initially starting out life as a bedroom project, the singer/songwriter began to write material on a modest classical guitar she purchased for the mere sum of £90 as a means of therapy to help guide her through a turbulent time. Realising she had tapped into something special, these tunes led her down a path to creating her debut album ‘The Ebony Trail,’ which she released in 2016, notching up praise from BBC6 Music’s Tom Robinson, Hot Press magazine, Chordblossom.com and more along the way.
But it wasn’t just the press that sat up and took notice of her haunting folk songs; music lovers and industry folk from across the globe also saw her star ascending. In 2015/2016 she found herself living in a proverbial suitcase and flitted back and forth to her spiritual home of Nashville after receiving publishing interest thanks to a chance meeting at the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival. It was there she sewed the seeds of what was to become her second album ‘Arrow,’ which is due for release on May 5, 2018 and produced by Michael Mormecha [Malojian, Ciaran Lavery].
Comprising of 10 alternative folk tinged tales, the eagerly awaited record boasts plenty of light and shade and explores themes of loneliness, lost love, anxiety and the dark side of social media while also offering encouragement, comfort and catharsis.
“ Arrow’ was made in a drafty creaky old house in the country,” explains the musician. “This made it all the more special as if you listen closely you’ll hear the wind and the crows squawking outside the studio window.”
In addition to writing solo, Ciara is also a keen collaborator and has worked with many world class songwriters and artists over the past few years including Gary Burr [Christina Aguilera, LeAnn Rimes], Grammy winner Don Henry [Ray Charles, Miranda Lambert], Max T. Barnes [Colin Raye, Randy Travis] and Grammy nominated Drew Ramsey [John Legend, India Arie] amongst others.
On the live front, Ciara has lots of highlights too, most notably playing in front of a TV audience of 60 million in the States alongside Grammy nominees Iain Archer and Jim Lauderdale as part of the ‘Music City Roots, Belfast To Nashville’ programme. Her numerous performances at the iconic Nashville venue the Bluebird Cafe also rank high among her ever growing list of achievements as well.
Having just returned from taking a trip to Kansas City, Missouri to showcase her music at the 2018 Folk Alliance International conference, the globe trotting tunesmith will be heading out on a small tour of the UK/Ire before heading on another pilgrimage to Nashville.
Praise for debut album ‘The Ebony Trail’
“A stunning slice of dark indie folk,” Hot Press magazine
“O’Neill is undoubtedly a singer of quality, and a lyricist adept at creating vivid, emotional frail imagery,” Chordblossom.com