After a brief foray into the world of country music, Irish harpist and singer Orla Fallon returns to her roots with her latest album Lore.

“I had been doing a lot of gigs and had been singing a lot of the old traditional songs that I grew up with as a child,” she tells Celtic Life International via email. “The songs always got such an incredible reaction and I really felt exhilarated as an artist when I sang them. I felt the time was right to do some new recordings of old favorites.”

The former Celtic Woman member worked alongside Irish producer Dan Shea to create the 12-track recording, which covers traditional Celtic songs, including Siúil A Rún and The Parting Glass.

“I wanted to record at least 50 songs. Dan and I spoke at length with our great friend and mentor Greg Howard at the record label and between us we narrowed the list down to 12 pieces. I love our recording of Wild Mountain Thyme as I feel it is so hopeful for brighter days ahead. I also love our version of Roseville Fair and could sing it all day. Galway Bay is very special too – it was my Dad’s favorite song.”

Apart from the usual time constraints, Fallon says that the project came together quite smoothly.

“Dan and I know each other so well. We are working together for over 12 years now and, although he is based in California and I am here in Ireland, we FaceTimed a lot to work out the logistics of keys and tempos. He worked his magic at home and sent me roughs of the tracks; I went into the studio and put down my harp first and then did the vocals. I work in a lovely little studio in Dublin and the engineer Dave Mc Cune always gets a lovely sound on both the harp and the vocals. I know I am in safe hands and that both guys will do a super job.”

The album’s production began in February of this year, only weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We never dreamed of the situation that was facing us with COVID-19. We had recorded all the tracks over a few days and intended doing one more day in March to do harmonies, but the country was locked down starting March 13th, so we didn’t get to do our last session.

“Still, I have to say that I felt very blessed during the lockdown. We have a lovely garden at home, and my son, my Mum and I worked in it every day. My husband had to go to work every day. We were in our own little bubble at home.”

Even with the day-to-day uncertainties surrounding the creation of Lore, Fallon believes it was all worth it.

“When I finally listened to the tracks it felt like I was putting on a cozy, old sweater. It really felt like the songs were so appropriate for the times – they felt comforting and reassuring.”

Like many in the music scene, she is concerned about the long-and short-term effects COVID-19 will have on those in the industry.

“All of the work – the gigs, all the months of planning – were just pulled overnight. It is not just the artists themselves who are suffering, but all the stage crews, the theatre workers, the sound guys…the list goes on. It has been a very difficult time for the music industry in general. That said, I think there will be a great hunger for live performances once we come through this, and I, for one, can’t wait to hear the roar of the crowd again.”

Fallon plans to spend the next several months promoting Lore in any way possible. While much remains unclear, she keeps her head held high.

“You can’t pursue a career in music unless you have a great drive to succeed, to work hard, and are prepared for hard times. The personal rewards and the pure joy of doing what you love though far outweighs any of that. Every time I record, I learn and grow, not only as an artist, but also as a person. I really wear my heart on my sleeve when I sing, and I think my confidence and self-belief have grown with every new piece of work.”