Yesterday morning, while tripping through the YouTube offerings from the Oregon-based Reptaliens, I pushed play on a video and, almost as soon as I did, found myself distracted by yet another pointless Twitter thread that pitted people against one another over something decidedly trivial. Somewhere in there, the guitar-propelled song was swapped for something a tad more folky and Bambi Browning’s lush vocals were traded for a lilting male voice: “The Girl in the Gloaming” by an Irish folksinger who calls himself Me Auld Flower. Production-wise, it updates the traditional Irish folk sound by integrating a synthesizer, other instruments and layered vocals, with the tracks stacked like bricks atop a solid foundation—the song itself.
Best I can tell, “Me Auld Flower” is the stage moniker used by one BP Nally, who—based on this San Diego Reader article—splits his time between his native land, aka Connemara in the west of Ireland, and Southern California. He released his debut album, which was produced with Galway singer-songwriter Eoin Dolan in the producer’s chair, in January 2020. The Vaults of Consciousness, he called it.
Volume II, which was released in November 2021, is not more of the same, though a thematic continuity exists between the two albums. The biggest difference came about as a result of the pandemic-fueled 2020 lockdown: He recorded the newer album in a spare bedroom of his rural Connemara cottage, playing all the instruments (guitars, banjo, bass, mandolin, piano, synthesizer and percussion) and singing the backing vocals himself. The result is a richly textured soundscape, as he had obviously had more time to experiment. At times, echoes of U2 and other Irish bands of yore do percolate into the mix, at least to my ears, but more often it’s uniquely Me Auld Flower, simply blending the old ways with the new.
Another highlight is “Electricity Comes to the Black Valley,” which meshes a nostalgic yearn with modern realities. In a press release, he explained that “[i]t is inspired by the beauty and simplicity of country life, and references the Black Valley, which was one of the last places on the mainland to acquire domestic electricity in Ireland in the 1970s. The song is about living in a faraway metropolis and being homesick for Ireland. It’s a dream of tranquility.”
As obvious from the above videos, in addition to producing well-crafted songs, Nally is a deft visual artist—he created the clips himself. He finished the album by the end of 2020 and spent the first few months of 2021 shooting and editing the videos. They’re quite cool. But, as I said above about the richly layered production, at the heart of the videos are the songs themselves. Here he is performing several of them on his guitar. It’s a mesmerizing set.
The track list: