Sharon announces her brand new album “Now!”

Sharon Shannon announces her brand new album “Now!”

available April 26th

The new album from Ireland’s greatest traditional music export Sharon Shannon entitled “Now!”
gets its full release ahead of an action packed Summer of headline shows and festival appearances.
This is the first time the new album has been made available outside of last year’s extensive career
spanning box set release.

The album features a collaboration with The Scratch (“The Diddley Doo”) which
was released as a single early in 2023. It also contains the quirky “Greenroots” single composed to
the background of a rousing speech by Barack Obama.

“NOW & THEN” BOX SET is out now exclusively from now

Extended sleeve notes by Robin Denslow
“Sharon Shannon sits in Camden Recording Studio in Dublin listening to the final mix of her new
album Now, and explains her cheerfully freewheeling style of writing tunes. “It can happen any time,
not necessarily when I have an instrument in my hand …. when I’m out walking the dogs or at home
cooking the dinner. I come up with an idea and press the record button on my phone. Or if I’m
playing an instrument, I might just keep playing and improvising for 35-40 minutes and I might get
10 or 12 ideas for nice tunes out of that…or I just sit down to write just one tune with an instrument.
I have hundreds of ideas for tunes on my phone, so another method is to just pick out one of them
and start working on perfecting it”.
It’s a mixture of those original tunes, along with very old traditional tunes, that provide the starting
point for the remarkable back catalogue of albums on this boxset, in which her compositions are
matched against musical influences from around the world, or heard alongside her settings for songs
by the remarkable array of great singers who have worked with her.

So how does Now compare with her earlier work? Every Sharon Shannon album is different, of

course, and this time round she says she had originally planned what would have been her first all-
instrumental album since Tunes (2005) and Flying Circus (2012), except it didn’t quite turn out like

that, although she wrote all but two of the tracks.
Her albums always contain surprises, and is no exception. There are no conventional songs, though
she shows off her famous sense of fun (and sings) on one delightfully crazy track, and there’s even
an appearance by a former President of the Unite States Mr. Barack Obama. There are no other
celebrity voices here, and none are needed. This is yet another classic Sharon set, on which she
matches great instrumental work on accordion, fiddle, whistles and even electric guitar with
ever-changing emotions, from a powerful, poignant lament through to stomping rock-influenced tunes or
passages of sheer fun.

As a celebrated animal-lover who shares her Galway home with five dogs and nine cats, it’s no
surprise that she should name the cheerfully upbeat opening tune Benji’s Rollicks after a much-loved
spaniel. It’s followed by a second tribute, Mammy Shannon’s Jig, this one written for her mother
Mary, and is a counterpart to the jig written for her father that appeared on ‘The Reckoning’ album.
With string arrangements by Aoife Ni Bhriain, it’s an emotional reminder of the role that her parents
played in encouraging her musical skills (and those of her brother and sisters) when they were
growing up in the little village of Ruan in County Clare. “They were mad for dancing”, says Sharon.
“They sent us to music lessons and it was thanks to them that we got this great love of music”.

Now come the changes of mood, starting with the delightfully silly The Diddley Doo, the only track
on the album with lyrics “if you want to call them lyrics”. Sharon taught the tune to her longstanding
guitarist Jim Murray “who is always saying ‘I do’, imitating an old man who used to say it, and then
Jack Maher came up with ‘do I do I diddley do’…and then ‘why didn’t you do’ etc etc – it’s so stupid!”
Indeed. But it’s a fine tune and a reminder of Sharon’s contagious sense of fun. And it features those
one-time Dublin buskers, ‘The Scratch’ now an ‘acoustic rock band’ famed for blurring the boundaries
between folk and heavy metal, and for their wild and furious live shows.

The mood changes with surely one of the most emotional, poignant tunes she has written. Séamus is
a celebration of the life of Séamus Begley, the accordion player and singer from West Kerry who died
in January 2023, whom she describes as “an amazing, amazing musician and singer and beautiful
person, really funny and a great friend, a big strong man, who was immensely proud of Ireland and
the tradition”. Ross Ainslie plays the highland pipes on this beautiful tune “and the pipes remind me
of the noble, epic person that Begley was”.

Next comes ‘Gnasher’s Knickers/Pipes on the table’, this first tune named after one of Sharon’s dogs.
There’s another surprising change of direction with Jack of Hearts, a stomping tune on which she
plays electric guitar. So how on earth did that come about? In 2020 she was contacted by the Irish
rugby star Robbie Henshaw, who asked if she would be interested in being nominated to learn a new
skill in five days and posting the results on social media, as part of a celebrity charity fund-raising
project. She agreed, and decided on the electric guitar “because I love electric guitar with
distortion!” She quickly mastered one of her own tunes, ‘The Jolly Roger’, which appeared on ‘The
Reckoning’ album. She says that ‘Jack of Hearts’ started with her playing the melody on the guitar,
to which other instruments were then added, including drums, bowed double bass, electric bass,
fiddle, banjo and last of all her own accordion and melodeon. “The demo guitar part I recorded at
home at the kitchen table is still the same – little did I think at the time that it would end up on the

Side Two begins with the cheerfully upbeat Jigatha Christie “an experiment – I wrote the melody to a
sequence of chords that Jim sent me”, and then two traditional reels, Dan Breens and Come West
Along The Road, with Sharon playing whistle. These are followed by a re-worked classical guitar
piece by the Italian composer Ferdinando Carulli, the stately Duo in G – which Sharon learned from
an old Dé Dannan album.

Next we have more surprises. The Zonkeys of Easkey was inspired by a pair of hybrid beasts who
were born after a circus visited the village of Easkey in County Sligo and left behind two zebras who
mated with some local donkeys.

Sharon sent the tune off to the brilliant Justin Adams, who played on a whole batch of her albums,
from ‘Renegade’ through to ‘Sacred Earth’ and ‘The Reckoning’, and is currently picking up awards
for his work with Mauro Durante. Justin wrote back with just one short sentence “those Zonkies are
groovy!” and started work on the track, overdubbing electric guitar, bass and percussion. Sharon
then added fiddles, more accordion and melodeon, whistles and even “a fiddle tuned right down to
hopefully sound almost like a cello”. The result is this beautifully slinky and gutsy tune.

The final Greenroots is the most unexpected track of all. It’s another sturdy, rousing tune (again with
added guitar work from Justin Adams) but what makes it remarkable is the addition of Barack
Obama’s famous speech, made during his Presidential visit to Dublin in 2011 – where he appeared
on the same College Green stage on which Sharon had played half an hour earlier.
The track was put together by engineer and producer Craig Mulvagh, and it’s unlike anything Sharon
has recorded before. But that’s what you’d expect from another great Sharon Shannon album.”

Media Contact: Dee Ní Chellaigh dee@MASONRY.IE 086-2495323