Album Title Behind Every Door
Release Date 27 October 2023
“Fiddle and flutes … are just perfect” BBC R2 Folk Show, Mark Radcliffe
“Powerful” BBC Radio Scotland, Iain Anderson
“…will stir the hairs on the back of your neck, such is its sheer beauty.” At The Barrier
“Grained with both aching and joy, it’s a heady, quietly intoxicating work that may well stand as McGinn’s finest to date.” FRUK
Pushed entirely from his comfort zone, it took an unnerving and potentially intimidating musical collaboration to jolt acclaimed Northern Irish singer-songwriter Matt McGinn from a period of musical depression to create his sixth and arguably finest album to date. Behind Every Door is released on 27 October on Dolmen Lane Records.
A revered fixture on the Irish scene, McGinn’s previous release ‘Time Well Spent’ (which featured folk royalty, Eliza Carthy, Aoife Scott and Jon Thorne) had enjoyed ‘Album of the Week’ status on both RTÉ Radio 1 and BBC Radio Ulster plus a plethora of glowing reviews, and yet, he says, “the songs had dried up. I just couldn’t write.” A Community Engagement programme in East Belfast then invited McGinn to take part in a project that would see him work with a Loyalist flute band from the area. Despite being no stranger to writing about the consequences of conflict, McGinn is from a Catholic background so admits to having found the idea “terrifying”.
However, as the collaborators connected, they realised they were all affected by the trauma of growing up against a backdrop of conflict, and that they had far more in common than differences, both in music and life. McGinn wrote 8 songs for the project, two of which appear on ‘Behind Every Door’. Most importantly, the creative floodgates had opened, kick-starting an album of beautiful songs and outstanding songwriting blending folk, alt-country and soul.
The first of those two songs is the album’s opening track and first single, ‘The Music’, an upbeat, driving melody-drenched song featuring swirling fiddles and McGinn’s warm, husky voice and wise words. Released on 1 September, the track shines a light on the historic common ground he shares with the band; in essence, music, melody and the mass emigration of all Irish music traditions across the globe, particularly America where it has inspired so much of their music.
Elsewhere on the album, ‘Lig Duinn’ – slang for ‘back off’ – is a foot stomping track written for anyone who has felt any kind of oppression in their lives, while ‘God Only Knows’ is a personal, thoughtful, country-inflected song about the Irish obsession with land. ‘Rainbows’ is a touching, melancholic song that pays respect for all those brave enough not to be straight in Northern Ireland, and McGinn’s reminder not to take his rights for granted.
But it’s the closing track, the staggeringly beautiful The Turning of The Tide that is the most powerful. An epic, 11-minute opus inspired by Willie Campbell who busked on the streets of Belfast in the 60’s playing the musical saw. The lyrics see life from his viewpoint, but reflect on the fact that he could never have envisioned The Troubles that hit soon after he died in 1969. Demonstrating McGinn’s impeccable talent for arranging, the track features strings, Uilleann Pipes, virtuoso piper Darragh Murphy and archive footage of Willie himself performing in the song’s utterly haunting final moments.
Recorded in just two days, ‘Behind Every Door’ is a dynamic ten-track collection of magical songs that traverse uplifting, driving melodies, rollicking fiddle-led Celtic folk and introspective, reflective pieces. Throughout, McGinn’s emotive, personal songwriting shines matched by the warmth and passion of his voice.