It’s 3am, it’s every night for the past month, maybe two; at this point I’m unsure. I have a cold cup of coffee that I keep reheating before I let it chill again & a notebook full of scrawling scribbles of some nonsensical blabber. There’s an email from my booking agent I’ve been dreading that I can’t open right now. “Write everything down” I was told, but where to begin? Touring has been gruelling, I feel so strung out & exhausted by the constant travelling, performing & travelling again. Every high & low leaves a mark. Every email is another reminder that there is ALWAYS more work to do. There is no break & there is no sleep. I have walked the same floors on the same hotel rooms night after night. Fuck, I’m so tired. There is an emptiness that seeps in & doesn’t just fester, it lies on you like a blanket, holds you there like a comforting cousin, only there is no comfort; it’s a weight. Tonight I stood in a room full of strangers who all paid in their own money & their own time to see the show & I have never felt lonelier. I wonder will it always be this way. Maybe it’s the price you pay for chasing one of the most selfish occupations that there is. All these people came out & the show felt good, I sang all the right words & I even told a few jokes, I know some people laughed. So why am I so unhappy? I wonder will it always be this way. I wonder is this ‘normal?’
Fast forward six months. I am still touring, still answering emails & still not sleeping great, if at all at times. But I am beginning to understand now. I put my hand up & I asked someone for help when things were at their bleakest. I had been hiding for so long, burying myself in my work as a way of distraction & punishment because I thought I deserved it. I write everything down now. You will never write lies down on a page when it is to yourself, I’ve learned that. I take my breaks from work when I can get them now & I enjoy them. I am a better person for knowing that I can talk when things feel overwhelming as they can do when working as a touring musician. I know I’m not alone & I’m certainly not strange or wrong for feeling the way I do at times; the way I did six months ago. The best advice was from a friend of mine who told me that I should talk to myself like I’m my own best friend, look after myself the way I would my closest companion. It all helps.
Ciaran is an award-winning singer-songwriter from Aghagallon in County Antrim, Ireland. He may be decorated at home by the Northern Ireland Music Prize (for his 2016 album ‘Let Bad In’) and might have totted up over 80 million streams on Spotify during his five-year solo career, but it’s the unrivalled knack he has for a poetic heart-stopping lyric that’s set to earn him wider recognition as a treasured singer-songwriter.
Whether exposing his most vulnerable mental health battles on ‘Beast At My Door’ (“There’s a beast at my door, better not let in/Though it cuts a fine figure of someone I could put my trust in…”) or carving a romance novella into a mere few verses on ‘Two Days In Savannah’ (“Two days in Savannah with your name in my gut/On a bed full of crossed out line and cigarette butts”), Lavery explores the human condition across a myriad of escapist themes on ‘Sweet Decay’. Not just for Lavery but for listeners too, it’s a means of coping with the pressures of our modern world. Fall down the rabbit hole with him and find yourself caught up in another universe, even if for a few moments. That’s what Lavery was intending.
(Photo credit: Andy Hughes)
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