The Unforgettable Lyra
One of the most unique voices in Irish music, Lyra was recently called upon to add her considerable talents to a tribute version of The Joshua Tree, in aid of Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice. Interview: Peter McGoran
“When they told me who else was going to be involved, I told them straight up, ‘Oh my God, I’d fecking love to be a part of this’,” says Irish singer Lyra from her London home, talking of her involvment in new U2 covers album, The Joshua Tree – New Roots. “I mean who wouldn’t want to be associated with a project like this?”
Having spent a long time under the radar, Lyra’s haunting, atmospheric brand of Celtic folk reached a mainstream audience when she performed on RTE’s Dancing With The Stars at the start of this year. During a showcase event months later, she was asked by Ken Allen, James Vincent McMorrow’s manager, if she’d like to sing perhaps the most powerful track from U2’s seminal LP.
“They asked me if I could do ‘Mothers Of The Disappeared’,” Lyra recalls. “At first, I couldn’t hear how it would work in my head. But the more I listened to it, the more I discovered just what an incredible song it was, and I started putting together ideas.
“I Googled everything to do with the song. I watched footage of U2 performing it in every single country. And that wasn’t an easy thing, because it’s such a harrowing story. When they have all the women coming up on the backdrop holding the candles, I was sobbing every time!
“Then when it came to actually making the song, I wanted to give it a new lease of life and try something different, so as to make it a bit more hopeful. I just started writing different melodies to their words, added in a chant and it all came together. I knew I wanted the opening to be
acapella, then the voice and the chanting to come through with the power of the drums. I tried not to overthink it and just have fun.”
From countless hours of research came Lyra’s powerhouse, Florence And The Machine-style version of the track. Having taken the song in a unique direction, she’s well and truly done it justice.
Does the singer remember the first time she heard
The Joshua Tree?
“I think it was through my sister that I first get into U2,” she replies. “She always knew the best music, and I was in her shadow trying to catch up with all these bands that she recommended. I got into The
Joshua Tree for the same reason as everyone else – these powerful, anthemic songs that have a timeless quality. My sister then went to see the tour when it came to Dublin back in June, and the way she described it just convinced me of how brilliant it is. It’s so historic and important.”
Lyra now finds herself sitting alongside the likes of Imelda May, Gavin James, Picture This and Kodaline on The Joshua Tree – New Roots, which is raising funds for LauraLynn Children’s Hospice.
“There’s so much great talent that’s gone into this,” she says. “Picture This’ ‘With Or Without
You’ works so beautifully well, and Gavin James has done this wonderful, stripped back version of ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’. Above all else, these are some great artists coming together for a great cause, so I’m hoping that people enjoy it!”
The Joshua Tree – New Roots was conceived by RTE 2fm and is out now on
Universal Music Ireland.