In a world in which so many singer-songwriters play it safe, those prepared to lay themselves bare with the kind of raw intimacy which has made their predecessors special feel like a breath of fresh air. Iain Andrew is one such songwriter. In the tradition of astonishing talents such as Conor Oberst and Elliott Smith, Dublin-based Andrew’s brand of “sad folk for sad folk” draws the listener in with a sense of warm empathy.
His new EP I Can’t Get Hurt If I’m Alone , the follow-up to Septembers authentically lo-fi Everything Is Waiting For You, documents the breakdown of a relationship like the loose leaves of a furiously scrawled-in diary, over delicately beautiful finger-picked compositions which feel like aural spider webs hung decorating a frosty morning.
The sparseness of Andrew’s creations is what soon wakes the listener up to the fact that I Can’t Hurt If I’m Alone, is as more the viewpoint of the metaphorical prey trapped in the web of a decaying relationship as the observer of those beautiful dew-dappled threads. In the space of three tracks, Andrew has effectively pulled the listener into his experience and possibly held up a mirror up to theirs in a way that’s often too difficult to find these days. With lyrics as blunt as “I hope at least I get tomorrow because I fucked up today” this record is twelve minutes of confessional rawness which takes the foundations of something with potential to be frantic in its bitterness and slows it into something thoughtfully reflective. He tells me a bit about it below:
You talk about discovering your musical influences when you were 16. Did you have a kind of musical coming-of-age that can be pinpointed?
I was always into metal growing up, and even had a black/death metal solo project when I was 18. My taste in music evolved gradually over the years, but hearing It’s Cool, We Can Still Be Friends by Bright Eyes and Elliott Smith’s Needle In The Hay at age 16 definitely opened my eyes and ears to a world of great music that I didn’t know existed.
Your music is very intimate. Do you find it challenging to be so open, particularly in the acoustic format which really lays artists bare?
Artists laying themselves bare is the best, that’s what I like listening to. I’m not good at writing cool poetic lyrics, so it comes more naturally to me to write songs that are intimate and personal.
For someone completely new to you, what would you tell them to expect?
Expect rough-around-the-edges lo-fi folk with emo lyrics.
Geographical location and background can are often a huge factor in feeding artists sounds. Do you feel a sense of time and place or influenced by Dublin in any specific way?
I love Dublin, but it can be a grey, depressing place at times (like right now). That kind of environment definitely encourages the writing of sad songs. Aside from that, I definitely take more influence from my experiences, and the music I listen to.
I Can’t Get Hurt If I’m Alone is released on December 15th.
Interview and review by Amy Britton. Find more on her archive http://www.louderthanwar.com/author/amy-britton or via Twitter as @amyjaybritton and Instagram as @amy.jay.britton