• Sophia Hadef

Moving and Powerful, Lewis Barfoot's Album 'Glenaphuca' is an Intense Debut

Have you ever loved an album so much that you feel the need to listen to it every time you need to soothe, to relax, like a magical pill to help you to press pause and move on? Well, that's what Glenaphuca, the debut album by Irish/English singer and multi-instrumentalist Lewis Barfoot, released on 5th March 2021, makes me feel.

Artwork by Barbara O Meara

Glenaphuca is a gorgeous and so personal album. Lewis Barfoot put all of herself in its songs. It's reminiscent, powerful, moving and deeply haunting. It features the recent singles Fisherman and Sweet Dreams as aired on RTÉ and BBC Radio. Glenaphuca is Lewis's grandmother’s dairy farm in Dungourney, East Cork, now an abandoned stone site weathered by neglect and home to birds, briers and lost memories. Pronounced Glen-a-foo-ka like the oo in a “moo” cow. "This album is a folk prayer to the ancestors and a harbinger of good fortune" says Lewis Barfoot. "After my Mum’s passing I had the courage to follow my curiosity, to reconnect with the land and my family in Ireland and to unravel the stories of the silencing and institutionalisation of the women in my line here." Profound and poignant, Lewis travelled back and forth between Cork and London for two years; she now lives in Cork, where she feels she belongs.

With Glenaphuca, Lewis tried to follow the call of motherhood and give a solid homage to her Irish roots and the women who helped her to construct herself. This album celebrates the past, honouring Irish women, especially Lewis's mother and grandmother. "A prayer to their lives and a liberation of the suffering they went to the grave with. It is also a gentle acceptance and reverence of death. Our one constant companion in life."

Lewis Barfoot photographed by Kate Bean Photography

White Dress is one of my favourite songs in the album; Lewis wrote that song for her mom, a love song to praise her mother's life buried with her wedding dress. It's beautiful and sounds very autumnal. I also loved Sister Lover, who glorifies sisterhood, the community and solidarity between women. Rise Up touched my heart, as it is an emotional song about Lewis's grandmother, who was institutionalised for simply speaking up against her abusive husband, like many other women in Ireland.

Glenaphuca was produced by Lewis at Soup Studios in London and mastered by Pete Maher. Glenaphuca features guest musicians Elisabeth Flett (Fiddle, Backing Vocals), Matt Dibble (Clarinet, Piano), Hannah Thomas (Cello, Backing Vocals), Maria Rodriguez Reina (Cello), Ansuman Biswas (Percussion) and Jonny Huddersfield Helm (Drums).

This album is a soul-stirring debut and a cure to the mind and the heart.

“What a beautiful, beautiful voice she has, just gorgeous”

Eve Blair, BBC Radio Ulster

“Best known for the ethereal poise of her crystal singing voice”

Folk and Honey

Check out Lewis Barfoot's website.

Lewis Barfoot's Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

Two podcasts talking about the album: Returning to the land and Cracking Open The Unspoken.

Follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

The Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provides support and information to callers experiencing abuse from intimate partners. https://www.womensaid.ie/

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