An opinion piece by Melanie Simpson (The Irish Jam)


Laurie Shaw’s work is some of the most exciting in the Irish music scene right now. On Thursday 16 August he humbly announced the arrival of a surprise new album to his 559 Facebook followers to a modest reception.

An album that’s not the new one containing his latest single That’s Life, but rather “an album of new songs” he ended up “putting together” while he was working on his debut short film. Laurie is a full time Masters student of film in Cork and this album seems to have just happened.

The new album is called 'Real Life on Celluloid' and was released to little fanfare by the Irish media. A quick Google search brings up an article from The New Indian Express exposing a sex scandal in the South Asian film industry. Interesting but not exactly what I was looking for.

Laurie released an album called 'Weird Weekends' in January 2018, perhaps not the best time to garner interest for the next Choice Music Prize nominations. The awards are usually held in March and 'Ships' had not even been crowned for Best Irish Album of 2017 yet, but Laurie doesn’t have time to think about the optimum release schedule to play to the Choice Prize judges. His songs need to be expelled quickly and often to prevent the clogging of new material.

There has already been speculation about who will win next year’s Choice Music Prize and I have not heard Laurie’s name mentioned once. Disappointing, as 'Weird Weekends' is one of the few albums that really caught my attention this year. In between  'Weird Weekends' and 'Real Life on Celluloid' Shaw has also released two EPs and an additional album 'Felted Fruit 2'.

Shaw’s authentic apathy is the kind you want from an artist. He would be relentlessly creating regardless. We’re just privileged to be able to watch the Bandcamp and SoundCloud accounts while the songs pour in.

I'm perplexed by the lack of excitement for such an accessible artist. Shaw has cited Pulp as a major influence on his writing style; one of the most commercially successful bands of the '90s. The Pulp infusion and Alex Turner phrasing permeate a lot of his work. So, it’s not about the music.

Sure, the back catalogue of over 80 albums is overwhelming (did we mention that he’s only 23?), but surely that’s a sign that the investment of your time is safe and he’ll probably produce 80 more over the next twenty years. A perfect musician to be a fan of.

Is it because he resides in Cork rather than Dublin and it’s easier to overlook a scene that’s 260 miles away? Or (I’m playing devil’s advocate here) is it because he’s originally from The Wirral and moved to Kenmare when he was ten so isn’t “actually” an Irish musician?

I don’t think so. Laurie’s music is good, and so far a select group of Irish music fans have claimed him as their own. It would be a different story if the work was getting bad reviews. Then he’d be reduced to the Blow in Brit from Kerry making crap tunes.

Ultimately, I’m not sure why Laurie’s work is failing to captivate the ears and pens of the trend setting music journalists of Dublin more often. I suppose I’ll just have to revel in the fandom of this underappreciated artist a bit longer with 558 others, smug in the knowledge that we’re fans of one of Ireland’s most prolific songwriters and producers to date and that most music fans are behind the curve. For now.

Words: Melanie Simpson @ismelfunny presenter of “The Irish Jam” on Wandsworth Radio, Sundays 7-9pm.