Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
Cormac Neeson’s new ‘White Feather’ album, released earlier this year, has propelled Neeson into the life affirming world of the singer / songwriter with a series of beautifully crafted, introspective songs that draw on a recent past that has served up its fair share of challenges and heartache.
White Feather’ was recorded in 2018 at the legendary Nashville Studio 19, now the Sound Kitchen. Neeson worked with some of the finest Nashville musicians including Steve Grossman on drums (Gibson Miller band, India Arie), Doug Kahan on bass (Cody Johnson) and John Heinrich on Pedal Steel (Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and Tammy Wynette).
The end result is a powerful blend of two diverse and rich musical cultures, a Celtic-Nashville concoction connected by Neeson’s unique vocal tones and song writing prowess, performing songs co-written with leading USA and Nashville country writers including 2016 Tennessee songwriter of the year Corey Lee Barker; Steve O Brien, Blue Miller, Chase Akers, Blake Densmore and Allen McKendree Palmer who between them have sold in excess of 30 million songs.
In advance of the NI Music Awards 2019, Cormac turned up in London at short notice (so short he only found out he was playing an impromptu gig a couple of days beforehand) to perform a set at the Black Heart in Camden Town. We were on site to capture the wonderfully intimate performance.
A short set as the night included a couple of other bands as well, saw Cormac with an acoustic guitar, harmonica and his guitar player from The Unholy Gospel Band performing tracks from White Feather. His warm charm infusing each song with the sort of feeling usually reserved for expressions of love and devotion towards close family and friends proved just how much this music means to him. It’s a country mile away from the music The Answer normally perform and that’s also one of the reasons this worked so well.
Whilst the Black Heart may be a small dark venue with so many wonderful beers on tap that you could forget a band is playing upstairs, Cormac’s set felt just right for the black painted walls and subdued lighting on offer. A song , a chat, a guitar solo or 5 from the super talented Andy Toman and Cormac’s smooth as George Clooney in a Nespresso advert voice painted smiles a mile wide on the faces of those present.
A packed room, well in advance of the main two acts playing that evening ensured an enthusiastic response to Cormac’s set and to hear him explain the meaning behind the tracks, especially Broken Wing which just came to life on the stage was especially heart warming.
A residency in a small underground club, 2 guitars, bar stools and a glass of whiskey at the side is what is needed for music like this. Cormac’s Northern Irish lilt gives each story that additional layer of warmth and the songs themselves just ooze emotion. A wonderful moment, just way too short.
If you get the chance, be sure to catch one of his solo shows in the New Year.