NUALA HONAN delves into the paradoxical vulnerability and strength to be found in human connection, on exuberant new track “Slow Down”. It is the first single to be lifted from her second album, which launches later this year following a spell of personal recuperation and creative evolution for the Bristol-based, Australia-born independent artist.
Recorded at Geoff Barrow’s (Portishead) Invada studio, “Slow Down” was realised in collaboration with a live band featuring Luke Cawthra (The Brackish) Matthew Jones (Zun Zun Egui), Ben Winter and Stevie Jo Dooley (Toddler), and co-produced by Honan and Aidan Sheehan (Low’s Museum).
Scaling new heights of noise and pop production following her former incarnation as a much-loved acoustic folk artist, the song sets off a new chapter for Nuala Honan. From low-slung and beguiling beginnings “Slow Down” whips up a head of steam, with mellifluous voice and harmonies playing off finely crafted lyrics and strung-out guitars. It’s a sound that transmits the raw energy and dynamism of her band, a crack-team of creative musicians from the alternative scene who complement Honan’s acute talent as a live performer – a talent that she has nurtured over more than a decade spent building a following for her exceptional vocals and magnetic connection with audiences.
The power of compassion and connection with the world around us, the struggle of choosing vulnerability over fear - and of embracing community - are themes that run through her new work.
On this single, Honan elaborates: ““Slow Down” explores that familiar struggle of loving someone who is in pain, and feeling desperate to take their pain away. It is the struggle to stay connected when you feel utterly disconnected. It’s an angry release, but with a tenderness fuelled by fierceness. It explores themes of psychosis, and it draws on the fantasy and wild majesty of Irish Celtic heritage, lyrically referencing the theme of the legendary Irish myth, The Children of Lir.”
Originally from rural outback Australia, Nuala Honan was awarded the South Australian Music Industry Award for Most Outstanding Female Vocalist before moving to England (aged just 19) to be closer to her family's Irish musical heritage and an adventurous music scene. Settling in Bristol, she became a fixture in the city’s music community as both a performer and promoter, as well as programming stages at festivals including Larmer Tree, and co-founding an initiative to advocate for and represent women in the music industry. In short, a DIY dynamo.
After self-releasing her 2013 debut album ‘The Tortoise’ (to heavy support including from the likes of BBC Introducing, Fresh On The Net and Spindle Magazine); followed by a busy spell of touring and playing on some of the UK and Ireland’s biggest festival stages including Glastonbury, Green Man, Shambala, Bestival and Electric Picnic; Honan recently took some much-needed distance and time out from the mental and physical realities of life as an independent troubadour.
She started working as a lifeguard at a swimming lake in north Bristol – an old flooded quarry with Victorian-esque diving boards and lawn. She found perspective, and calm, on surrounding herself with and surrendering herself to the therapeutic benefits and the here-and-now of outdoor swimming in all weathers. She stripped her creative world down to the basics and built it back up in a sustainable, joyful, communal way. And she now returns from her sabbatical with a reawakened sense of purpose and a fire in her belly.
“When I stopped I realised I wasn’t making the music I listen to, and want to hear – the sounds that inspired me to make music in my youth. This new music feels like stepping into the most authentic version of myself, which is terrifying. But artists like St Vincent, Angel Olsen and tUnE-yArDs empowered me to have confidence in my ideas and be radical with my songwriting and production.”
On her new material Nuala harvests all her experience to date, and her gift for timeless songwriting, into a sound that lies somewhere between her rural desert upbringing and her fearless pop contemporaries. Driven by post-punk rawness, yet still letting fly with moments of audacious, operatic singing over the tumultuous drums, Honan wields her Telecaster and leads a killer band in a pop-drama, exploring the strength in vulnerability and connection.
For press and Radio enquiries please contact Rosie James at Fever To Tell:
rosie @ fevertotell dot com / +44 (0) 7891 225 654
"That is just so good... that is pretty outstanding"
- JOHN KENNEDY (RADIO X)
“stark yet beautiful songwriting is worth filing alongside Big Thief or Angel Olsen…
Poetic yet impacting sharply, it's blessed with a devastating chorus… patiently unfolding with real lyrical grace”
- ROBIN MURRAY (CLASH MAGAZINE)
“Honan creates new universes with her music, Slow Down has such a unique vibe… an impressive sound.”
“trippy manifestations… and it all coalesces together magically, perfectly.”
- ROBB DONKER, AMERICAN PANCAKE
“channels the ethereal tones of Angel Olsen for this breezy new gem”
- MYSTIC SONS
“an elaborate, strong song with a genuine and driving sound”
- TONIC GRAIN
"We've been supporting Nuala's music for quite some time on here, and 2020 looks like it's going to be the big one."
"That is quite a departure from what we expect from her...She's doing all the right things - she's come back into it with some new energy, a new sound... it sounds like she's having a really great time"
- RICHARD PITT AND SAM BONHAM (BBC INTRODUCING IN THE WEST