GARETH DUNLOP – Animal album cover

new single
out 04.05.22
(Zenith Café/Membran)

included on
out now

“Sophisticated pop with a modern feel and appeal. It’s classy music and you can see why he is in demand from other artists“
“A surprising album, more than the blend of its influences and casting a few new out there for the future. Is this where Roxy Music were heading, had they ever got beyond ‘Avalon’?”
“An immersive, synth textured set that blends ambient pop with soul, a touch of Celtic and a splash of cinematic”
“‘Animal’ is a beast of an album. Just put it on and bathe in its glow”

making of ANIMAL

30.08.22  YORK Barbican
31.08.22  MANCHESTER Albert Hall
01.09.22  EDINBURGH Queen’s Hall
03.09.22  LONDON Eventim Apollo
04.09.22  BIRMINGHAM Alexandra Theatre
05.09.22  DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
07.09.22  CORK Cyprus Avenue
09.09.22  BELFAST SSE Arena

As the video for his new single, ‘My Kind of Paradise’, commences, Northern Irish singer, songwriter and producer Gareth Dunlop is sitting in darkness, far away from anything resembling a heavenly oasis – and that’s fine with him. “Don’t need sun on my skin / Or salt on the breeze / To calm the storms within / Or set my soul at ease,” he sings. “‘Cause I’ve found heaven / In your eyes / My kind of paradise.” A perfect love song to signal the onset of summer, albeit without an appropriate sunny locale, ‘paradise’ is at least subsequently built around him.

“How this video started out and ended up are two very different tales,” Dunlop laughs. “My original idea was to shoot a lyric video on the north coast of Ireland using lots of clever props my wife had made. We drove up to the location, but all hell broke loose when a storm began as soon as we arrived. Cars got stuck in the sand, props got soaked and ruined, signs blew away…in the end, we were beaten by the good old Irish weather.”

Thankfully, his director and videographer Jamie Neish had a Plan B. “His idea was to shoot a one-take and have a fake beach scene built around me,” he continues. “Jamie is one of those people in life who exudes positivity! When he’s excited about an idea, it’s infectious. We called two buddies to act as the builders on the set, re-used what was left of the props, bought some bags of sand and just went for it.”

‘My Kind Of Paradise’ is the latest single from Dunlop’s just released new album, ‘Animal’, which consists of a diverse set of songs including the soulful and anthemic ‘Right About Ready’ and ‘Look Back Smiling’ (which evoke the ‘80s yet exude a timeless quality), the atmospheric ‘Sorrow’ and ‘Prisoner Of My Past’, the laid-back ‘60s dream pop vibe of ‘Humans’, plus a memorable title song that adds an electronic bounce to its subtle groove.

‘Animal’ was recorded in Dunlop’s own Sycamore Studios as lockdown engulfed the globe, a period that also saw him produce records by his friends and compatriots Foy Vance and Lee Rogers. All three are about to hit the road for a US tour, with Dunlop on double duty as part of Vance’s band. A previously announced UK and Ireland tour is scheduled for the late summer.

Gareth Dunlop has been recognised as an accomplished talent ever since the BBC tipped him as ‘one to watch’ in 2010 when he was not long out of his teens. In the ensuing decade he released several singles, a handful of EPs and an album that were musically eclectic yet all showcased his highly soulful voice, with several of his songs going on to be used in the hit TV series ‘Nashville’, commercials for Disney and Subaru, and more. He also had songwriting credits for recordings by stars such as T.I., Tim McGraw & Faith Hill and John Oates.

However, prior to the 2020 lockdown, Dunlop was just as likely to be heard by live audiences as he forged a reputation as a magnetic and charismatic performer on frequent headlining tours and support slots to the likes of Van Morrison, Jeff Beck, Snow Patrol and James Morrison. Reviewing one of his shows, Gigslutz stated that “Dunlop has the kind of voice that can still a room with its vulnerability, the meaning behind the words heartfelt, the emotion real”, while Maximum Volume Music succinctly described it as “instantly memorable”.

In his home territory, the Irish News praised Dunlop for his “distinctive croon and ear for sharp melodic/lyrical hooks”, while local website ChordBlossom declared him to be “one of the greatest talents to come out of Northern Ireland”, a sentiment only slightly qualified by National Rock Review who stated that he is “arguably one of Northern Ireland’s greatest singer/songwriters from the past decade”.

Inspired by icons such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Tom Waits, plus a soupçon of Pink Floyd, Dunlop picked up a guitar aged 14 and soon began performing covers and original songs in live venues around Northern Ireland, RoI and the rest of the UK. In 2011 he won a Young Songwriter of the Year award in Belfast that not only earned him an invite to collaborate with seasoned writers in Nashville, an experience he has repeated many times since, but it also enabled him to tour the US extensively.

Having spent so long away from Belfast following his initial breakthrough, Dunlop decided to record and co-produce his 2017 debut album, ‘No. 79’, in stripped-back fashion at home – literally – with Nashville based writer Bobby Hamrick and compatriot Alastair McMillan, who had also recorded Dunlop’s first studio sessions at Dublin’s esteemed Windmill Lane and has engineered for U2, The Rolling Stones and Van Morrison. A winning fusion of folk and soul, the album earned critical acclaim and was playlisted on several Irish and UK radio stations, while in RoI it earned an Album of the Week slot on the prestigious RTE1.

GARETH DUNLOP – photography by Daniel Morton