SONG PREMIERE: Seamus Egan (Solas) Fuses Irish and Bluegrass Music on Upbeat Acoustic Instrumental “B Bump Bounce”

For over twenty years, Philadelphia’s Seamus Egan blazed a new trail for Irish music in America. At the head of the supergroup Solas, he toured the world and pushed the music in new directions, incorporating complex arrangements, stunning virtuosity, and elements of global and Americana music. His work defined Irish music for multiple generations and set a benchmark that still hasn’t been matched. As a composer, Egan put his stamp on film soundtracks, symphonic collaborations, and, most famously, co-wrote Sarah McLachlan’s smash hit, “I Will Remember You.” But what happens when a trailblazer needs to take a step back? Egan found himself asking that question when confronted with two major life changes: his band Solas went on hiatus, opening up more time for his own music making, and he moved from his long-time home in Philadelphia to rural Vermont. “Both things coalesced not by design,” Egan says, “but they came together at the same time. I liked the symmetry of it.”

Holed up in his Vermont cabin, Egan finally had time to go through tunes and melodies he’d composed over the years. Inspired by this time alone with his music, he enlisted close friends and collaborators to make a new album of entirely instrumental music, Early Bright, to be released January 17th. Throughout, the goal of Egan’s new work was to reweave the threads of the Irish roots music he knows so well with a more compositional perspective, drawing from classical influences like Bach, Segovia, Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, and modern composers like Meredith Monk and Philip Glass.

Early Bright marks Seamus Egan’s first solo album in twenty-three years, following on the heels of his groundbreaking 1996 instrumental album When Juniper Sleeps. Much has changed since then, back when he was known for the blazing pyrotechnics and jaw dropping virtuosity of his first incarnation as a precocious child prodigy in the tradition. Egan was always known for his abilities on a wide variety of instruments, winning multiple All-Ireland Championships while still a teenager, and Early Bright sees him shining on these many instruments again, playing tenor banjo, nylon string guitar, low whistles, mandolin, keyboard, and percussion.

From the first, delicate opening notes through to the melancholic, yet hopeful, closing track, Early Bright, showcases the virtuosity Egan has become renowned for, while also bringing his superb original compositions to the fore. He has written music inspired by childhood memories and ruminations on our yearning to connect and our need to be heard. With Early Bright, Seamus Egan was able to slow down, to focus inwardly on his own creative muse, and to fall back in love with the subtle melodies of the music.

Today Glide is delighted to offer an exclusive premiere of “B Bump Bounce”, one of the more intriguing songs on Early Bright. While it may not be entirely appropriate to call this song rocking, it is certainly one of the more lively tunes on the album as Egan blends subtle sensibilities of Irish music with an upbeat bluegrass meets pop sound. Layering on textures of acoustic sounds, Egan lets his nylon string guitar do most of the talking as he weaves around a banjo at breakneck speed. It’s easy to imagine this song coming to life naturally and gaining momentum as Egan got swept up in the emotion of creating something fresh, exciting, and new. At the same time, it’s also possible to picture this song as a soundtrack of a movie taking place during a montage of important moments. Egan brings his background in both of those approaches together for “B Bump Bounce”, and the result is a track that is both fun and exhilarating. 

Egan describes the process behind the song in his own words:

“You write music for all sorts of reasons and sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes a piece of music begins to appear out of a relaxed, no agenda, noodling session. This piece was born out of such a circumstance. I was knocking around the house one afternoon picking up the guitar, noodling a little, putting it down, coming back to it, noodling some more. Soon I realized that I was coming back to the same phrases, developing them a bit more each time, then adding to them. Over the course of an afternoon the piece took shape. It would take another several months of tweaking and arranging to get it to its final shape but it started as nothing more than some absentminded noodling.”

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