My Sweet Wild Rose, the new single from The Haar featuring poet Jessie Summerhayes, is poised between a number of worlds, holding you in suspension between refined words and music and the visceral reality of hard life.
The five-part improvisation traverses the past and future, beauty and decay, the delicacy of life and the un-delicacy of not life. The Haar hold these together with a tenderness which balances each of their truths.
With sung lines including about how the coughing hurts, this is a very real world of pain, but the music has a sense of the ethereal and the vocals have whisps of the something else.
The sung lines from The Haars’ powerfully evocative Molly Donnery (All-Ireland Scór na nÓg winner) are combined with the poem and narrative storytelling of Jessie.
The funerary poem was written as a spontaneous response by Jessie to encounters with wild roses on a hot summer’s day.
Jessie explains: “It was the hottest of June days, I’d left the house early and driven through miles of green shade and brightness to York, which was slowly baking in the heat. The river, dubious as it is, was too appealing to resist and I ended up dustily half slipping down the bank. From in the water, the wild roses looked nearly monumental, like tangled memorials to that first flush of early spring.
“I drove back to the moors to find The Haar in the garden, Molly humming nearly to herself as they all tried out the sound for a track. There, in the shade by the wall at the bottom of the garden was another wild rose, melancholic in its fragile beauty. The poem combines these images with the image of a child lost to consumption, the same kind of pale and fragile beauty blooming pink-red in the heat.
“We recorded this poem, or perhaps it is a song, in one take, Molly and I alternating voices, speaking and singing interwoven, and the musicians crafting melodies and rhythms with us – a 5-part improvisatory whole. And then it was done, the roses only last so long, and the evening closed in around them and us.”
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