Beneath a Yellow Moon is the debut record from Dublin, Ireland’s always-smiling, heavily-bearded, passionate poet-of-a-musician, Patrick O’Laoghaire. His musical project goes by the name I Have a Tribe and after two EPs, he has released an 11 song full length, heavily decorated with intimate vocals, gorgeous piano and undeniably impassioned lyricism. O’ Laoghaire’s voice is simple but perfectly on pitch, his vibrato fluttering high above. His voice is playful, his Irish accent exposing itself now and then, and his enunciation is immaculate; no word is in question. He speaks like a true poet, his words are the center of his songs and the English language his tool. His lyrics are sharp, witty, smart and perfectly executed. They are surrounded by building, swirling instrumentals that stack upon each other. Every song ends somewhere higher, somewhere bigger and more beautiful than its beginning. Every track is the song for a separate story. Each song speaks to the listener so individually, as if each one is the theme song to a different short film.
This record took me by complete surprise. After being introduced to his single “Cold Fact”, I was instantly a fan but this song is more subdued than many of the other pieces on his record. So, upon my first listen to Beneath a Yellow Moon, I was shocked by the rich, cinematic composure of every track. The opening cut, “Passage”, is an honest, transparent piece about growing up, being frustrated, throwing in the towel, questioning everything but having no shame and moving on. The following track, “La Neige”, is equally as beautiful. He plays with harmonies, layering husky vocals upon each other, gospel harmonies hang hauntingly in the background amidst O’ Laoghaire’s fantastical instrumental organization. Over and over again he repeats, each time with more fire:
I’m lost for words, when this occurs,
Through the seasons, reveals the reasons.
The song finishes with one simple, stunning statement:
Take the right to be human.
If one was to listen to one song on this record to get an idea of who O’ Laoghaire is as a musician, it would be “Battle Hardened Pacifist.” It’s the perfect example of how he plays with his words and how he uses the power of instruments to make them more meaningful. The song rises and falls again and again, taking the listener on what I now understand to be the typical zealous-rich musical ride that O’ Laoghaire creates.
Then there is the 9 minute ballad, “Casablanca”, in which the cornerstone lyric appropriately is:
Here’s looking at you, kid.
O’ Laoghaire’s voice reaches such a level of passion, it almost completely disappears, a sweet piano melody tinkers along until the very end. In this song and others, you hear traces of the non-musical aspects of playing the piano: the sound of the keys when they are pressed, the pedal creaking. These qualities bring another level of honesty to his music.
This record is an absolutely glorious celebration of music and poetry. They are weaved together in such a way; it is not possible to pull them apart. Beneath a Yellow Moon was released October 14th on Groenland Records and is available for purchase on iTunes and via Groenland Records.