Articles - Features

18 For ’18: Dowry


Happy new year! We’re pleased to present 18 for ’18, a handpicked selection of Irish acts we’re absolutely convinced are going places in 2018. Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be previewing each of those acts, accompanied by words from our writers and an original photograph by our wonderful team of photographers. First up is Dublin composer and artist Éna Brennan AKA Dowry.

Photo by Aaron Corr

“Surround yourself with kind and sincere people and all will be well.” (Dowry proverb)

Éna Brennan has made sure to do just that over the past year. Having played with Tandem Felix, Bad Sea, Paddy Hanna and Spudgun among many others, multi-instrumentalist and composer Brennan has spent the time honing her stagecraft, opening herself to the audience and stepping out from the comfort and camouflage of a band unit.

Dowry is her solo project, with Brennan approaching her methods in a specific way, writing poems and instrumental material completely separately. The music is born from improvisation, drawing inspiration from thoughts or observations when they occur and realised with violin, guitars, voice and loop pedal. It’s a wholly personal, yet immersive combination. You can feel it within the droning depths and folds of Dowry’s current string-heavy improv demos, as the strands of Brennan’s compositions gradually coalesce.

Originally from Brussels but relocating to Ireland ten years ago, Brennan’s musical apprenticeship has seen her move from orchestras and choirs in dusty school basement music rooms, to the halls of Trinity College, to city venues and the open air beauty of Ireland’s music festivals. A summer of sounds has produced some magical memories – Quarter Block Party and Sounds From A Safe Harbour, both in Cork, and Another Love Story in Meath; festivals curated by those proverbial kind and sincere folk that make space for artists to flourish. They’ve allowed Brennan to flex her collaborative muscle and to reach appreciative listeners.

The year ahead is all about reaching out beyond the live sphere, beyond the confines of a venue, to share her words and sentiments via song. Brennan has begun to sort through all her home demos to properly revisit and rerecord the pieces she is most proud of. We should have new music from Dowry any time soon, helped along by a burgeoning roster of collaborators and friends. Surround yourself with people like that, and all will be well. Justin McDaid