Eileen Tackney. 8Photo: Lorraine Teevan

A welcome return

‘The Return Home’ is Eileen’s third album. Her debut South was released in 2013, and she followed up with 2015’s ‘Towards the Sun’.

While the anchor of lockdown weighed heavily on many people, Eileen Tackney embraced it.

The natural drift of life, her job teaching music in Cavan town’s secondary schools - all halted. Eileen felt liberated in that curious zone of domestic captivity and seemingly endless time on idle hands.

“It sort of made me think: God, I would like to make to more music. COVID life review - I’m sure everybody’s had one!”

She is again mindful of the very many people who found this spring so hard, and stresses at the time she didn’t go around blowing about how she relished the opportunity it presented.

“I enjoyed just stopping,” she recalls. “I think secretly for a while I’ve been wanting something like that. I’d be quite reclusive, I like the down time.”

As a person who has to shoehorn her chances to create around work and obligations, she appreciated the opportunity when it arrived: “When in your lifetime will you get that?”

‘The Return Home’ is Eileen’s third album. Her debut South was released in 2013, and she followed up with 2015’s ‘Towards the Sun’.

When the Celt expressed shock at the realisation five years had passed, Eileen confides: “I never thought I’d write another one, honestly. Cause I thought, well, where am I going to get the headspace to do this?”

With life stopped, and headspace granted Eileen plugged in her synthesiser and began composing. Her process of creating music is quite instinctive.

“I never think of a theme really. It’s always a case of what comes out at the time.

“I might have an idea of maybe the texture, but I wouldn’t have an idea of the feeling or anything like that. It would just be okay, put your hands down on the keyboard, pick your sound and see what comes out. That’s always the way I work.”

Eileen enjoys the mystery behind artistic expression, something she shares with many musicians and artists.

“I know myself, the music comes through you. I know if my head kicks in, it won’t work. So you sort of get into the zone and then it comes through you.”

She describes the album as “reflective”, and frequently found herself falling asleep when listening back to mixes. That’s not to say it’s an album of lullabies. She laughingly assures that soporific music isn’t a bad thing; if anything it’s a compliment to her work, as she confesses to having problems drifting off.

“It just got me into a relaxed mood that I could actually fall asleep.”

She adds: “When I’m listening to it, it’s like I’m nearly listening to someone else’s work, you know? Jeez, did I actually write that? Or, how did I get to the point where that is the finished product?”

That detachment from her compositions is surprising since she has them meticulously mapped out before involving the musicians. For the album Sue King plays viola, Caralyn Hornes is on cello, and Andrew Molloy is on violin, who incidentally, Eileen taught piano when he was a student in St Pat’s and is now studying in London’s Guild Hall. She admits to being “very particular” in her demands of the musicians.

“I usually write out what I want someone to play rather than leave it to chance because then I can take full responsibility for the result,” she jokes. The result is a collection of nine engaging tracks that are quite detached from most contemporary music you’ll hear. It confidently stands apart. While each track is accomplished, ‘Dance of the Ladybirds’ and the epic title track with their orchestral trad flavour make for strange bedfellows in an album dominated by more electronica tracks. The brilliant opener ‘Two Worlds’, ‘Twilight’ and ‘On the Road Again’ (not a cover of either Canned Heat or Willlie Nelson) are brimming with great ideas. The exhilarating ‘Free Falling’ is the album’s high point, bringing to mind Michael Nyman. This same vibe is taken into the next track, ‘House of Secrets’, but with more melodramatic effect. While Eileen provides vocals throughout the album, she puts them to use as textures. It’s only on the closing, ‘Stay Away From the Phone’, where she breaks into song.

“It’s my first attempt at a song”, says Eileen, adding it “doesn’t follow the typical format”. She explains: “I’ll start one way, and then I could go in a few different directions. And then I come back to base at the end.”

The strong end results may inspire confidence to include more vocals in future releases.

Not one to put herself out there Eileen has sought help in promoting ‘The Return Home’ which is due for an online release in late January.

“I’m hoping with the help I’ll have a better shot because I feel last time I didn’t really give it a shot. I was happy making the music, but I wasn’t happy promoting it. That’s the bit I hate.”

Despite having support in rebuilding her website, writing press releases, and seeking airplay, she has modest ambitions for it.

“I’d be happy for some ears to listen to it and get something from it.”

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