With an adventurous spirit and a passion for charting the road less travelled, Beoga have shown that Irish traditional music can take fresh new directions. Constantly evolving, the quintet have proved that new audiences are eager to embrace the genre’s life-affirming energy.
That world-facing potential was proven by the popularity of their collaborations with Ed Sheeran on his all-conquering ‘÷’ album. Those two songs - ‘Galway Girl’ and ‘Nancy Mulligan’ - have been streamed over a billion times on Spotify alone. Their creative connection continued with some huge outdoor shows, including an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime moment when they joined Ed during his headline set at Glastonbury.
Key to that new approach was identifying the collaborators who could help Beoga continue to explore fresh territory. They called on some old friends (the Grammy-nominated producer Jonny Coffer, Northern Irish artists Foy Vance and Ryan McMullan, plus regular touring partner Niall McCabe) alongside some fresh creatives in the shape of Lissie and Devin Dawson. Beoga put together a wealth of new material during sessions at Foy Vance’s studio in the Highlands, at multi-instrumentalist Seán Óg Graham’s home studio in County Antrim and at Angelic Studio in Northamptonshire.
The result is Beoga’s forthcoming mini album ‘Carousel’, which will be previewed by the brand new single ‘In A Rocket’. Featuring vocals from Lissie and a topline written by James Bay, it blends Beoga’s Irish-fuelled rhythms with Lissie’s Midwestern folk-pop as it looks ahead to better times to come. “Spent too long in this lonely room,” Lissie emotes, “Kicked out the locks, going to run with you / Sun’s waiting on the other side.”
In the years that followed, Beoga toured the world, released several albums and experienced things they’d never dreamed of doing, such as performing at BBC’s Proms in the Park. The Wall Street Journal even heralded them as, “‘The most exciting new traditional band to emerge from Ireland this century.” At times, says Graham, their leftfield take on the sound didn’t fit the biggest Irish-American festivals, yet the connection with Ed Sheeran ultimately helped to make their singular style not only viable but rewarding.
Now they’re poised to take that talent to a whole new audience. In the time they’ve been away, they’ve not only delivered ‘Carousel’ but they also have the bones of another two or three albums’ worth of material. As Murray concludes, “It felt at times like we were knocking our heads against the wall, but looking back at it now we realise we are being more creative than we’ve ever been. We know our strengths and that’s a fortunate position to be in.”