Today’s Top 5: Laura Elizabeth Hughes

(Laura Elizabeth Hughes)

Even in the best of times, days have a way of blurring together. Pre-pandemic, for instance, many of us woke, worked, ate and slept again and again (and again), with each new workday the same as the last, until the weekend and accompanying fun arrived. Maybe that meant dinner out followed by a concert or, if not, a bookstore jaunt – or just catching up with friends or hanging with family. The pandemic’s stuck-at-home life upended that weekend routine, unfortunately, and now – for many of us, at least – every tomorrow is no different than yesterday.

Dublin-based singer-songwriter Laura Elizabeth Hughes deftly captures the stark sameness on her new single, “Days,” from her forthcoming, We, Myself, I EP. She explains in a press release that the song “was a step at confronting the nothingness routine that hit when I was out of work for four months. It’s repetitious, a choral of my own voice, my own thoughts, day in and day out. It’s the losing sense of time. It’s that limbo between Christmas and before New Year’s but in the middle of May. It’s all work and no play freneticism.”

As evidenced by “Days,” her songs are intricate and tuneful wonders. Some reflect realities relatable to everyone, while others flow from the speakers as if from the subconscious – or is that the collective unconscious? Last year’s “Pandemonium” is a good example. It’s stark and powerful, a melancholic wonder that ricochets around the brain long after it’s ended.

On her Facebook and YouTube pages, she describes it as “a fever dream I had about my best friend, the end of the world, a flask of tea and an old oak tree.” She expanded upon that in an interview with FV Music Blog, “I have very vivid dreams, and one night I had a dream I was down in my home away from home, and I had this overwhelming impending doom feeling. My best friend texted me to tell me the news that the end of the world was about to happen, zombies, rising tides, the whole shebang. And I panicked. She rang me to tell me to meet her at our Old Oak Tree with a packet of biscuits and that she would bring a flask of tea. So we sat in that tree, happy to be together and ok in the middle of the ‘Pandemonium’ that was about to ensue.” 

In any event, from what I’ve gathered, Hughes first got her start in 2008 when, as a teen, she began uploading cover songs to YouTube. It’s interesting to go back and watch her earliest available video, which is dated June 23, 2008…

It’s not perfect by any means, as she seems (understandably) tentative, yet – if you close your eyes – the performance reveals the innate beauty of her voice. She may not have all the phrasings down, or learned how to turn a song into a conversation, but that’s okay; those are things learned over time. Three years on, however, her growth as a singer is readily apparent, as this cover of Lana Del Ray’s “Video Games” demonstrates. She also seems much more at home singing to her phone (or computer) than before.

In any event, she soon attracted views. She leveraged that to raise money to fund a self-titled EP, which she released in 2013, and followed that up with another EP, Ceremony, in 2018. The former is a solid first outing; the latter, as the track “Straight for Tomorrow,” shows, is excellent.

Along the way, she also collaborated with Ryan O’Shaughnessy and Mark Caplice on O’Shaughnessy’s “Together,” which was Ireland’s entry in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest; and, since, released the stellar single “For You (Home).”

At the same video session that produced “Pandemonium,” she and pianist Cian Sweeney laid down a sterling cover of Lana Del Rey’s “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it.” It seems a good way to end this introductory overview (which, as happens with my Top 5s, went two songs over).

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