Conchur White “Swirling Violets”

Bella Union, 2024

Astonishingly accomplished, dreamy debut from County Armagh future star.

When it comes to debuts, it’s always interesting to check out who the artist has toured with – knowing that this early live music setting is invaluable and the choice of who they play with says so much. So when we see that this Country Armagh singer-songwriter has already toured with the likes of Villagers; Billie Marten; John Grant and even the mighty John Cale, we know this is likely to be an album to cherish. And boy is that correct.

This is an album of dreamlike, intimate but instantly catchy songs that, knowing White likes “surreal settings with tangible messages”, are complex and intelligent yet instantly accessible.

Think Old Sea Brigade mixed with Father John Misty and you’ll get his style. Before he was a solo artist, he’d been in bands and also had worked with young people with mental health issues – these experiences imbue his songs and all the better for it.

It opens with the magnificent ‘The Holy Death‘ which begins acoustically, before opening out with lovely percussion and guitar work, in a song reflecting on morality with a gorgeous melody. It also dares to go a little wild mid-way through. Seriously impressive stuff.

501′ is a dreamy take on teenage infatuation with another incredibly catchy and memorable melody – his choice of lyrics here are intuitive and so apt that we’re on his wavelength almost immediately. Carefully crafted lyrics shine again on ‘I Did Good Today’, another dreamy song about being introverted but desperate for validation.

White is a seriously good story-teller and he tells them with amazing honesty and humour – irrespective of the subject matter. Piano and acoustic guitar swirl together on ‘Swirling Violets‘ with his achingly passionate vocals adding to an impactful feel.

‘Fawn‘ is another cracker – with a guitar-laden, powerful chorus, lovely smooth vocals and compelling lyrics, concluding with the line “On our epitaph there’s a photograph where you can’t just wait to be yourself”. ‘The Women In The War’ combines hushed vocals with a stirring and sing-along chorus to fantastic effect.

This album gets better and better with repeated listens and there’s not a dud track in sight, with fantastic cover art as well. What a debut.


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Andrew Riggs

Great review of a fine debut,