Lisa O’Neill joins Lankum on Rough Trade’s roster with her striking new album All of This is Chance. In 2021, O’Neill emerged from the pandemic with a performance based on Patrick Kavanagh’s book, The Great Hunger at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. This has proven to be a significant influence on her new work, with the opening lyrics of the album being a quote from her fellow border-county poet, “Clay is the word and clay is the flesh.”
O’Neill is a champion for conservation of both land and of the distinctive Cavan lilt. The success of her storytelling is only strengthened by an accent which others may have been convinced to round or soften. It grounds us in the soil as she sings of the highs and lows of both landscapes and living. We are not transported to another world, as much as we are reminded where we are standing. In ‘If I Was a Painter’ O’Neill is subtle but sharp in her criticism of what we have lost with our fast-paced modern life, also mourning the disconnect from older generations. Lisa’s young niece Sadie-Mae O’Neill features on the album, alongside Cormac Begley, David Coulter of the Pogues and many other regular collaborators.
Throughout the album, we are encouraged to pause and appreciate the world around us however bittersweet the seasonal fragility of its beauty, and that is the point. O’Neill’s passion, worry and wonder at the world is infectious and is perfect listening for going mad in a field.
Words: Leigh Arthur
Photo of Lisa O’Neill: Keri Leigh Kearney
Lisa O’Neill – All of This is Chance