Beloved and revered singer-songwriter Gemma Hayes returns with her first release in nine years, the heart-wrenchingly beautiful ‘High & Low’ out today, Friday, 23rd June 2023.
Back with new music for the first time in nearly a decade, Gemma’s dulcet voice over finger-plucked strings sounds like coming home. The Mercury Prize nominee’s last release was the critically acclaimed album Bones & Longing in 2014.
Co-produced with her longtime friend David Odlum (a former member of Kíla and The Frames), ‘High & Low’ is all about the quest for connection. The accompanying contemplative video perfectly captures the nuances of this exquisite track.
Gemma says: “The bigger story in ‘High & Low’ is about feeling disconnected – but desperately wanting to connect. In the song, this idea is placed in the context of grief and longing for a person who is gone, leaving a ghostly feeling of not fully being alive because of their departure. A nice, happy dance floor anthem this is not!”
This yearning for connection seeps through Gemma’s vocals, as well as the deft guitar, piano, and ukulele she contributed to the track. Odlum took on bass duties, with Sam Killeen (James Vincent McMorrow, Lisa Hannigan) on electric guitar and Adam Marcello (Katy Perry, The Script) on drums.
“It means so much to me to be releasing new music this year,” Gemma explains. “Whilst I never stopped creating during my ‘hiatus’, I did indeed step back from sharing what I created simply because of the little humans that needed me to keep them alive for the first few years of their lives.”
Sharing her deconstructed folk-pop with the world again is not just a means of artistic expression, but a way for Gemma to feel grounded.
“I really needed music and songs to transport me out of my head and back into my gut. It’s hard not to feel a strange joy as a human when creating and self-expressing in any artful way. Writing songs for me is like entering a world where magic is real, there’s a heightened sense of aliveness.”
Her upcoming TV appearances include a performance on TradFest: The Fingal Sessions hosted by Fiachna Ó Braonáin (Hothouse Flowers) for RTÉ / PBS / European Broadcasting Union. Her collaborative show for Other Voices filmed at Cahir Castle with Lisa Hannigan and Bell XI’s Paul Noonan was live streamed worldwide on 18 May and is due to air on RTÉ 2 in June.
Gemma is currently booking Irish and UK dates for the autumn, with her band and also as a trio with Lisa Hannigan and Paul Noonan.