Festivals, — October 31, 2009 13:05 — 0 Comments

Paula Flynn: Singer

I am confident, if you are a radio listener, that you have already heard Miss Paula Flynn, one of Ireland‘s most interesting emerging artists.


Up until recently, Paula was best known for her star turns singing alongside the inimitable Jinx Lennon but is now taking centre stage with the release of her debut album.


‘It’s going well, I think!’ says the singer. ‘I just have to keep plugging away; I’m getting good reviews. Journalists and all are liking it.’


Paula is delighted to be hitting the road with a debut record to promote.


‘I’ve always wanted to make an album,’ she explains. ‘Singing with Jinx, I’d get an awful lot of people coming up saying ‘can we buy your album?’ and ‘you should make an album’.


I suppose it’s a mixture of that and wanting to do it but I wouldn’t just bring anything out. I’m very self-critical, and it took me a long time to be relaxed and confident enough to bring out my own stuff.’


Miss Paula Flynn is an arresting collection of songs with Paula’s unique and stirring voice to the fore. One of the album’s many highlights is Little Miss Forkhill, inspired by the singer’s hometown in County Armagh.


‘It was one of the last songs I wrote,’ she recalls. ‘I wrote it a week before I went in to record. I was panicking; I was going ‘there are not enough songs about where I’m from.’ I wanted one to say who I really was and where I was from, things I remember. It just came flooding to me.’


Jinx Lennon’s songs are very much rooted in where he’s from (Dundalk) and Paula admires this quality.


‘I like people who write about where they’re from,’ she says. ‘For years I would’ve got slagging at secondary school about being from the Bog Road.


I don’t care anymore. I love where I’m from; I’m proud of where I’m from. I think the ultimate way is to have a song about it.’


Some of the songs on Paula’s album are new but there are others she’s been working on for a while.


‘I suppose the ideas have been floating around for a long time,’ she muses.

 

‘Ghost In My Car for instance – that line was in my head for years.

 

Goldfish At The Fair as well – these things have just been floating around. I’ve reams and reams of notebooks so I just took the best of everything and started writing.  I was working with Greg McAteer – he’d do most of the music and I’d come with vocal melodies and write most of the lyrics.’


McAteer is also Paula Flynn’s manager.  They met after Paula enjoyed extensive airplay with her cover of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance.


Although happy enough with the attention it brought, Paula didn’t want to follow a path others were laying out for her.


‘It just seemed to work,’ she says about meeting Greg. ‘I’ve had a couple of managers over the years and I don’t like all that crap.


After the Let’s Dance stuff I had two or three managers who just didn’t understand where I was coming from;  they just wanted me to do an album of covers. To sing songs that I wasn’t into?  I was going ‘I’m not doing this, there’s no way’.’


Greg encouraged Paula to stick with original songs and also happened to have the entire back catalogue of renowned American country music group,The Carter Family, one of her biggest influences.  Greg suggested some musicians he knew and the scene was set for Paula Flynn’s debut album.


‘I didn’t want it be too polished or over-produced,’ she says.


‘There’d be a lot of musicians who I like to hear live, then when I listen to their albums I’d be put off.  That would be my biggest fear, to have an album that didn’t represent me.’


Miss Paula Flynn is a beguiling artiste and a serious talent.  The album’s critical reception has been very positive, as Miss Flynn discovered lately.


‘Last week I met this journalist after Jinx’s gig in the Sugar Club [Dublin],’ Paula says.


‘He came up to me and he was a wee bit drunk. He said ‘I reviewed your album and I gave it four out of five.’  I said ‘why did you not give it five?’  Y’know, messin’ with him and he goes ‘because it wasn’t perfect’.


‘That’s brilliant, because there’s no way I would want my album to be perfect!  That was the best thing he could’ve said to me. I don’t ever want to be perfect; I just want to develop as a songwriter.’


How did Paula and Greg manage to capture such an honest, direct sound?


‘We recorded it live – the drums, the cello, the guitar and myself all at the one time,’ she explains. ‘We did 20 songs in two days.  We did two or three takes and picked the best; if I wanted to fix a few wee things I would.  We wanted to sound like it was immediate; just the way they did it years ago, that’s where I get the Carter Family influence again.’


From singing alongside the searingly honest Jinx Lennon to the possible commercial success offered by Let’s Dance, Paula Flynn has found her feet as a performer.


‘What I’ve found out through all this is I have to be singing songs I believe in,’ she states. ‘That’s the most important thing. We did a gig in Offaly, there were six or seven people at it, but I’d a really good time.  Jinx would say,  ‘the show has to go on’ and that has taught me a huge lesson.  You can’t expect to have your first album and have people running around after you; you have to build up your audience.’

Here is a singer of rare, unaffected talent, with an album she is deservedly proud of.


‘The more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it. I don’t hear me anymore, it’s almost like it’s someone else’s album.  


That’s more than I’d ever want, the feeling of …


‘I really like this’.’

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