Updated: Mar 16
LaGracia’s debut 4 track EP "No-One's Fool" will be available from the 1st of October 2021
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Last October 2021, LaGracia released their Debut EP "No One's Fool", a collection of four songs written by musical duo/husband and wife, Gráinne McCarthy and Kevin Healy, making up LaGracia.
"No One's Fool" is a passion project consisting of heartfelt and soulful songs in the works for over 4 years. They were finally able to finish it during lockdown despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. "There were a lot of vocals that needed to be recorded, along with extra production and keys which we wanted, so we had to do most of it remotely, and going to the studio as often as possible", says McCarthy, an established performer, credited with a number of Irish television appearances, such as The Late Late Show accompanying Lucia Evans and The Waterboys, as well as being a long standing member of Danny G & the Major 7ths.
They released two singles off their EP last year, "Say" in April and "Can't Ever Know" in June.
Since the release of their EP, they have received airplay on local and national Irish radio. In October they were finalists for the Hotpress Local Hero Competition for Irish Music Month, where they got the opportunity to record two of their songs live from the Hawkswell Sligo.
Their song "Can't Ever Know" has recently been included on The Acoustic Yard's Compilation Album, Volume 7, due to be released April 1st 2022.
LaGracia are a fairly recent band on the Dublin and West of Ireland circuit but individually have been on the music scene for several years playing with different bands and performing weddings and various gigs. Hailing from Sligo and Roscommon: with Gráinne on vocals, Kevin and Tom McGlynn on guitars, and Dublin: Dennis Cassidy on beats and Gar Frequency on bass and production. For the purpose of the EP, they recruited Jesse Chandler (Midlake, BNQT), who recorded additional keys remotely last year from Texas.
Their sound has been described as nostalgic, a fusion of classic soul and modern R&B. It is reminiscent of the 90’s R&B era of En Vogue, TLC and Lauryn Hill, while lead singer-songwriter McCarthy has a voice that evokes classic soul/ R&B singers like Etta James, Dusty Springfield and Roberta Flack. The overall sound is brave, passionate and soulful.
CAN'T EVER KNOW
"Can't Ever Know" is the follow up to "Say", (released in April), from their Debut EP. It is thematically similar to "Say" in that it was from the same period of time where McCarthy, realised that, "Some people will never fully understand who we are and what we are about both personally and artistically and that's OK. You need to find your own tribe in order to excel".
In contrast to "Say", which has a more produced feel, in "Can't Ever Know" you can really hear a more live band sound from LaGracia. The Latin influenced acoustic guitar and percussion immediately set the tone for the song which is reminiscent of Santana and Lauryn Hill's collaborations.
It has a throwback feel with 90's inspired vocals prominent on the chorus and in the outro. The song evolves and peaks with a striking finish of layered a cappella vocals from McCarthy, who states that she is constantly evolving her songs and composing new harmonies and BV's. "One of the backing vocals that appears in the outro came to me on the last day of recording vocals and now it's my favourite part of the song. It really adds emotion to the ending".
"Say" is LaGracia’s first release since their debut single “Don’t You Ever Leave” in 2015.
It was independently recorded in Temple Lane Studios with Michael Gormley, with additional recording and mixing with Leo Logan in Vibe Studios.
"It is a song about expectations in relationships, the struggle of feeling let down and misunderstood. You ultimately have to rely on yourself", says McCarthy.
“Our song-writing could be described as “emotionally charged”, getting off our chests what we are not brave enough to express directly”.
Influences for the song include Solange, Aaliyah and Janelle Monáe. They wanted to have a throwback feel while still having an original edge. They worked on the arrangements and production with G Frequency, a Hip Hop producer/ scratch DJ, known for his album "Let's Begin" and opening shows for Grand Master Flash. "Gar's production really gave the song a level of epic that we couldn't have achieved without him", says Healy. "When we brought Gar into the band as a bass player, we hadn't realised he was a phenomenal Hip-Hop producer as well."
"LaGracia's debut single is a fine piece of not only soul and R&B, but southern gospel music, vocally McCarthy is in the (happy!) half-way house between Dusty Springfield's 'You Don't Own Me' and Aretha Franklin's '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman', with more than easy on the ear velvet vocals" -Remy's Music and Film Blog.
"Say" is a really funky new track by LaGracia with vocals that really remind me of Destiny's Child" - Stevie G - Red FM "Believing" by Danny G and the Major 7ths - "The opening track certainly gets you Believing from the off, with gorgeously layered vocals & a beautifully soulful contribution from Grainne McCarthy" -Golden Plec
The band was originally formed by soul singer Gráinne McCarthy & guitarist/bassist Kevin Healy. They started out as a couple and quickly started writing and gigging together. Their union kindled a passion that they both had prior to meeting.
Gráinne is the daughter of two poets and grew up listening to classic folk and soul records from the swinging 60's. So, began her music education and she started to write poetry and songs in Primary School. She was a typical 90’s kid listening to Bubblegum Pop and R&B, such as All Saints, Backstreet Boys, Destiny's Child and The Spice Girls. Then her sisters gave her a copy of The Fugees album "The Score" while she was in Primary School and this ignited her fascination with Hip-Hop and R&B. Lauryn Hill really caught her attention and by the time "The Miseducation" came out, McCarthy was enthralled by Hill’s lyrics and melodies. It is still her favourite album today.
She always felt a deep connection with music from a young age and loved to write, but she never thought that she could make a career from music. She went for singing lessons in her teens and continued to write and sing in her spare time, or when she was supposed to be studying. But she decided to study Psychology and Spanish in University, two other interests for her. Psychology in particular plays a big role in her writing. "Everything I write is about people and relationships. I am fascinated by people, what makes them tick, their struggles, heartbreak and conflict - that all gets my creative juices flowing".
Kevin on the other hand grew up listening to country music such as Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks from his parents and was educated in Rock and Indie from his brothers and peers. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers are still his favourite band today and have heavily influenced his guitar and bass playing. He was also a huge Michael Jackson fan from a young age and was lucky enough to attend the “HIStory” tour in 1997. He is a bass player first and that has really influenced his guitar style. One principle he leans into is making sure to leave plenty of space, "especially when you're working with soul singers like Grá."
So they met somewhere in the middle of Rock, Soul and R&B and blended their influences together to create an unique sound with the vibe and soul of R&B and the added passion and elevation of rock music.
McCarthy has worked with Discovery Gospel Choir since 2012 which has really helped to develop her as a singer, and she has learned a great deal about backing vocal arrangement which is evident throughout the EP. She gained great experience with them, performing on prestigious stages such as the 3 Arena, The Olympia and at festivals. With members of the choir she recorded backing vocals with Kila and Celtic Woman, and also performed on Discovery's album "Look Up". During her time with the choir she met and started doing backing vocals with Danny G & The Major 7ths and Emma O'Reilly. She is a featured vocalist on Danny G's song "Believing" which has received over 300,000 streams to date along with great national radio airplay.
Healy gained great gigging experience as a member of a touring rock cover band "The Antics", 2006 - 2014, performing all over the country and winning The Stars of Our Bars Competition in 2010.
He has also been Emma O'Reilly's bass player since 2015, playing various gigs and festivals including New York's prestigious "Mondo" in 2017, and performing on her EP "Fractures".
LaGracia's debut single "Don't You Ever Leave" is a very personal piece inspired by relationship experiences. The song has a strong emotional input as it was recorded & released in 2015, in aid of Kevin’s cousin who was diagnosed with cancer.
‘Don’t You Ever Leave’ was heavily soul and Motown influenced . For this reason, LaGracia collaborated with singers from "Discovery Gospel Choir" in order to record backing vocals and shape an authentic gospel sound. The song also features Johnny Taylor (keyboards) and Richard Ng (saxophone).
The band started recording their 4 song EP “No One’s Fool”, 4 years ago. It departs from the soul/Motown era of their debut single, to a more nostalgic 90’s R&B sound. All the core elements were recorded with Michael Gormley in Temple Lane Studios.
Tom, a skilled session guitarist, BIMM graduate and former member of The Optimists, provided the electric guitar.
Gar, known as G Frequency, provided bass and also co- produced the EP remotely from his home studio. He is known for his scratch Djing, opening shows for Grandmaster Flash, and his Hip Hop album Let's Begin , which features rappers such as Othello, Voice, and Tableek. He is set to release his second album which features Hozier and Jess Kav among others.
Last year they also recruited Jesse Chandler, a well known keys player acclaimed for his work with Midlake, BNQT, and Mercury Rev. They met and became friends with members of Midlake after a Sligo Live gig several years ago and have remained in touch ever since. He recorded Rhodes, Hammond organ, electric piano, clavichord and mellotron remotely from Texas.
After the initial recording, McCarthy was not fully happy with her original vocal takes and knew she could do better justice to the songs, so she decided to almost completely re-do them last year with Leo Logan in Vibes Studio.
Although they would have loved to have finished the project sooner, they are grateful that time allowed for the songs to develop and become the best versions they could be. It has exceeded their expectations completely.
The name of the EP came from one of the 4 tracks, one of their earlier compositions. It seemed to encompass the entire feeling of the EP, that: “I’ll be no one’s fool, I’m moving forward and I am relying on myself from now on. There were situations that were toxic in my life at the time which I let go of or stopped letting them get to me”.
Kevin and Gráinne returned to Ireland from Sicily, Italy in August 2021, where they were working remotely for 6 months and have been keeping busy writing and working on producing their next projects. Being away and experiencing another way of life has been so beneficial to them. They became part of an amazing community over there and loved learning a new language.
Over the last year and a half they had mainly been livestreaming from their home via Sligo Lockdown Live Streams and for charitable causes such as the Music Marathon in aid of Jigsaw. They really enjoyed Sicilian life and even returned to live gigging in Da Saretto Wine Bar, Letojanni which was such a blessing for them after a long period of time performing only at home.
They are delighted things have finally opened up here in Ireland and are busy rehearsing to return to live music ASAP with a number of gigs lined up.
On March 26th they will be supporting the MASS Band at their 10 year Anniversary gig in Yeat's Local Sligo.
They will be performing at The Wild Roots Festival, Sligo on the June Bank Holiday, 2022.
Music Video "Can't Ever Know"
Debut MUSIC VIDEO "Don't You Ever Leave"
Cork’s Red Fm (Green on red show)
Ocean Fm (Francie Conway)
Soul City Fm
Beat 102-103 (Irish Beats)
WDET Detroit .9fm (Soul sessions)
Craic Radio Show - Philly cam