Arts Week with Judy Murphy
“I’m mad for stories and love to hear a good story at a singing session,” says Galway-born, Louth-based Sophie Coyle who returns to her native city this Friday to launch her debut album, Blame Me for the Storm.
Sophie’s passion for stories shines through on Blame Me for the Storm, a collection of 11 songs, all but one self-penned – she co-wrote Jonah and the Whale with Cork singer-songwriter Fintan Lucey.
All the songs have a tale to tell – some are surreal and supernatural, others set firmly on the ground or floating in the air, with birds a recurring theme. Some are haunting, others are uplifting and Sophie delivers them with delicacy and finesse, superbly backed by a group of musicians, all friends.
One of her earliest musical influences was her mother, Sally Coyle, a co-founder of Galway Arts Festival in the year that Sophie, her fifth child and second-youngest, was born. Sally was later involved in the classical music organisation, Music for Galway, and then with the Galway Music Residency, ConTempo, and Sophie remembers that there was always music playing in the car. Sophie and her siblings learned music and she progressed to Grade Eight on piano, joining the Galway Baroque Singers when she was a teenager. “It was a wonderful musical grounding,” she says.
Music remained a passion as Sophie did a degree in Amenity Horticulture at the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, later to moving Dundalk. It was there she met fellow musician Jinx Lennon who is now her husband, when he walked into a shop where she had a job. She later invited him to one of her gigs and the rest is history.
Sophie had long gigged as a backing singer for friends, which had stirred her into writing her own songs but she’d never had any great desire to be centre stage.
“Maybe that’s why it took me so long to bring out my first album,” she observes.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.