Niamh Bury – Yellow Roses

Posted 1 month ago in Music

DDF apr-may-24 – Desktop

Fresh off the late March release of the gorgeous ‘Yellow Roses’, the debut album by Dublin folk jewel Niamh Bury, we spoke with the singer about some of the lyrical inspirations behind the topics she so deftly tackles across the record. 


What led you to write the dark tale that is “The Ballad of Margaret Reed”?

“I had been living in Norfolk in England. I’ve always been interested in folklore, so when I was there I was reading that. I had been reading a book named ‘This Hollow Land’, so that song is based on a true story of a woman who was living in Kings Lynn in Norfolk, who was unfortunately burned at the stake, and legend has it that her heart burst out of her chest, and the flames were quenched by the river. I just wanted to almost tell the story in her own voice, and just how ridiculous the whole thing was.”


‘Yellow Roses’ is a delicate and beautiful ode. 

“That’s the title track of the album. It’s a song I wrote about my grandmother when she passed. It’s really just a collection of my memories of her. A tribute to the idea of people living within our memories when they’re gone. She was an amazing woman. She had a difficult life in many ways, but loved animals and nature and glamor, and was incredibly resilient in those things.”


And that’s not the only song about family on the record.

“I have a song about my mother, named ‘Pianos in the Snow’, inspired by the adventures she got up to before I was born. She is kind of a renaissance woman, and is my mother. She’s a classically trained pianist, and also taught science in her career. She took her students on a trip to Moscow in 1991, after the Berlin Wall had come down.

She was taking the kids back to the airport, and she turned around and suddenly, loads of the boys had army uniforms on. What happened was, the army was still disbanding, and had traded with the students for Nike Jumpers and Blue Jeans. It was just a really striking visual anecdote contained within the song, among others.”


Who have you read that helped shape the way you write?

“When I was studying literature, I studied a lot of Irish literature in post colonialism. Things like Joyce and Bram Stoker, and I went on to do a masters which brought me to England. I was very into modernism also, like Samuel Beckett and W.G. Sebald. I was obsessed with his book, ‘The Rings of Saturn’. He taught at the University of East Anglia, which is the reason I went there. He would have been a huge inspiration. How writing is… I don’t know how to describe it. It’s often about post World War, and the destruction of war upon the landscape, and how landscape holds memory, and interacting with that landscape can help us understand our path and our history.”

Niamh Bury’s beautiful ‘Yellow Roses’ is out now.

Words: Adhamh Ó Caoimh


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