With the last year being hard on everyone, Dara Barry-Hayes looked to start this year on a positive note. His debut EP Bright Clouds is the realisation of a dream that had long been forgotten but reared its head during the pandemic. Including tracks that touch on feelings of inadequacy and missing someone you loved once, the EP takes you through a range of emotions.
Recorded in a small playroom in the middle of a house riddled with the hustle and bustle of energetic children and daily life, he started with a blank page and a couple of ideas. The dream of writing and recording music took root when Barry-Hayes was 7 and heard ‘Twist and Shout’ by the Beatles. While life took him in a different direction, he is here now to let everyone hear just what he has to say.
The EP opens with the acoustic guitar of ‘I Want to Know Everything’. The melody has a very chilled and laid-back feeling to it that makes you think of relaxing sunny days. This easy melody helps the vocals and lyrics hit a bit harder. The vocals have a light haziness to them as they take on feelings of inadequacy in a changing world. While there are some depressing feelings woven into the track, they are countered by a knowledge that there is no-one who is better than you just as you are not better than anyone else. Through the lyrics, the different things people are good at are highlighted making you feel better about your place in the world.
‘Time with You’ has a more melancholic edge that comes through from the first strummed tones of the guitar. When the vocals enter, they are filled with a longing and yearning for someone who is not around. The hazy upper tones of the melody add a dreamy feeling to the music while the piano brings a hint of nostalgia. It is a wonderfully layered melody that pulls different threads of emotion together. The vocals move from a strong yearning to a realisation that your emotions have not changed over the years for someone you loved in the past.
The title track ‘Bright Clouds’ brings a new feeling with the opening as you are pulled in by the piano line. There is a touch of the easiness from the opening track but this is covered in a reflective feeling. The music is very different from the other tracks with an orchestral depth that has your mind floating along memories. The flow of the single has your brain coated in a sepia-tinted haze as you are thrown back in time while still looking toward a brighter future.
‘No Way of Knowing’ brings the gentle acoustic guitar back for a very folky track. The stripped-back melody brings a raw authenticity to the music as the emotions in the vocals sink into you. There is a fair amount of melancholy in this song that comes through the vocals and lyrics as they consider some heavy topics. Later in the track, there is a floating melodic interlude that fills you with a strange sense of peace in the face of the uncertainty that has been woven into the lyrics and vocals. The guitar riff that plucks against your ears is restful and gentle while being utterly beautiful.
The EP comes to an end with ‘Waves’ which opens with a very delicate melody. The overlapping vocals create a sonic sense of waves lapping against your senses. The arrangement of the lyrics and melody enhances this feeling of sonic waves as the ebb and flow of the ocean is brought to life. There is an almost meditative feeling to the music allowing you to listen while sitting back with your eyes closed. This is a great end to the EP as it relaxes you while bringing an emotional depth that you can’t avoid.
Dara Barry-Hayes realises a dream with his EP Bright Clouds which tackles feelings of inadequacy, nostalgia and love. With easy melodies and smooth vocals, he has you riding the waves of his emotions over the last year. Using gentle acoustic guitars and layered melodies that are easy to listen to while getting you lost in the emotions he brings.