Annette Buckley tells Don O’Mahony about her involvement with the Americana-influenced SomeRiseSomeFall collective and why she prefers singing live to recording in the studio
IT’S BEEN five years since we last heard from Annette Buckley. Back then she was promoting her Where No One Can Find Me EP, her first release since her debut album, The Ever Changing Colours of the Sea, but this time around she is releasing a single, a cover of New Orleans songwriter Allen Toussaint’s ‘I’ll Take a Melody’.
Interestingly, the project isn’t really hers. It’s being released under the umbrella name of SomeRiseSomeFall, an Americana-influenced collective founded by music fan Mick Fitzgerald that also features Martin Leahy, Ger Wolfe and Hank Wedel, among others.
“I was approached by Michael Fitzgerald, who organised the whole thing,” says Buckley of her involvement in the collective. “He’s basically being talking about doing an album for quite a while now and he got Martin Leahy in to produce it and local songwriters in.
“So he started off with Ger Wolfe, Hank Wedel, Edel Sullivan… so a lot of the local Cork songwriters.
“He then approached me for the female voice on it and I was really happy about it.”
Inspired by songwriters such as The Grateful Dead, Ian Tyson, Allen Toussaint and Jorma Kaukonen, SomeRiseSomeFall is described by the organisation as “Americana with an Irish twist”.
Central to the project is an album due for release next year, with Buckley’s single a precursor.
Another aspect that drew Buckley to the project was SomeRiseSomeFall’s passion for a range of social issues. The proceeds of their last single, the Hank Wedel-fronted ‘It’ll Shine When It Shines’, went towards Shine, the metal health advocacy organisation.
“I’ve had people close to me that have been affected by that,” says Buckley. “And I felt like the people that I knew that have been involved in this project, I like them and I got on very well with them and I like what they do. It’s basically the reason why I got involved in it.
“This project that I’m doing, maybe it might not be my style, but I like the reason behind it. I don’t even really know that many Grateful Dead songs at all, but I got involved only because I like the people, and that’s how it happened,” she adds.
While original material bearing her name has been thin on the ground, Buckley says she has been doing some things here and there in the live arena.
Over the recent Jazz Weekend she did a show in L’attitude on Union Quay, and she appeared at the Townlands Festival in Macroom over the summer.
She also got to play a number of festival dates in the Czech Republic with fellow Cork musician Simon MacHale.
“He does a lot of electronic stuff,” says Buckley of MacHale. “He’s working on a project called New Paper Boy, and I’m doing some vocals on his electronic stuff.
When it comes to addressing the paucity of original recorded material, Buckley offers a couple of reasons for that, the first being the elusive act of just being able to “nail stuff down”.
She insists: “I have the songs; it’s just getting the right people to do it. I think what’s after happening is, one, sometimes it could be a money issue, where you don’t have enough money. That’s why I have to teach and stuff as well, to just try to make money out of that.
“But I think a lot of it is to do with finding the right people that I want to work with and one person in particular that I am happy working with at the moment is Simon McHale.”
However, a more pertinent reason for her slim musical discography is her dissatisfaction with the recording process and studio environment.
“When I start singing one of my songs in a studio I think everything has to be so in tune, everything has to sound so good, and I think I forget the element of the emotion doesn’t come out,” she volunteers.
For Buckley, it’s a simple case of needing the presence of an audience to generate the emotion necessary to perform.
“I think the studio environment is too clinical for me,” she continues.
“I find that hard. And that’s why I’ve always been very reluctant to release stuff.
“I must admit that every time I record I do have this element of, ‘this is not the way I want the songs to go’, and I feel every time I’ve done some tracks, I’m not happy with it so I don’t release it.
“So that’s what’s after happening and I feel I much prefer singing live. And that’s why I came to the conclusion that maybe I going to have to do a live album because I actually prefer singing live than I do in a studio.”