Friday 14 October: Strule Arts Centre, Omagh
Saturday 15 October: Market Place, Armagh
Saturday 5 November: Roe Valley, Limavady
Sunday 6 November: Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Saturday 3 December: Ranfurly House, Dungannon
Saturday 7 January: Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen
SUGAR ISLAND: release Friday 28 October
The 4 Of Us have been a part of Irish music history for over a quarter of a century.
Formed and fronted by Newry-born brothers Brendan and Declan Murphy, they have developed a unique musical identity which has produced original and award- winning recordings, as well as a large and loyal fan base.
The 4 Of Us shot to early fame towards the end of 1989 with their debut Songs for the Tempted, which featured the massive hits Mary and Drag My Bad Name Down. The follow up Man Alive made Q magazine’s prestigious Top 50 Albums of 1992 and included the UK Top 30 song She Hits Me.
To date, the Murphy brothers have notched up an enviable catalogue of timeless songs, including six top 20 Irish charting albums. Their music has also been featured extensively on American, UK, and Irish TV soundtracks.
Sugar Island, the latest album by The 4 Of Us, is due for release on October 28 2016. Lyrically, the album explores the brothers’ early years growing up in Northern Ireland; musically, it focuses on the trademark interplay of their acoustic guitars. Promising to be one of their best studio recordings yet, Sugar Island features 12 new songs. It is arguably their most biographical album, including tracks reflecting on the brothers’ childhood, growing up in a border town during the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland.
As singer Brendan recalls: It was a dark time for sure, but as kids we still managed to have a lot of fun. Everyone who lived through that time has their own stories to tell; we thought we’d share some of ours.
The title track refers to the landmark heart of their home town, which was also a popular meeting place for young lovers: On the day I left you crying, on the bridge at Sugar Island, as the lyric goes.
The opening track, Bird’s Eye View, recalls the mixture of fear and excitement as a young Brendan watched the conflict unfold from his bedroom window at night, kept awake by the racket of helicopters and gunfire – Just a stone’s throw from my home to the edges of the danger zone.
Going South refers to the annual family holiday trips across the border. Songs like Seventy Three, That’s The Way The River Flows and Hometown On The Border look back to that time from the present day – What you always thought was ordinary, really isn’t all that ordinary.
The rhythm of the album is provided primarily by Declan’s acoustic guitar and stomp-board on tracks that for the most part eschew a full drum kit.
We’ve really come full circle, says Declan. When we started, it was Brendan and I writing and recording with a drum box. The 4 Of Us was just two guys and two guitars. This album is a return to that ethos.
The Murphy brothers have worked with a few gifted musicians to fulfil their vision for their seventh studio album.
Says Brendan: Enda Walsh is a guy we have worked with from our very first album. He has a great recording studio and is one of the most musical people we know. His contribution really helped bring the record to life. Songwriter Sharon Vaughn flew over from Nashville to co write with us, and drummer Peter McKinney, from our original band line-up, added percussion, along with the talented bodhran player Siobhan Fahy.
The result is an uplifting album that touches on themes of childhood, family, and the passing of time against the backdrop of one of the North’s darkest periods.
The 4 Of Us undertake an extensive national tour this autumn, playing over 25 venues north and south including the Lyric theatre in Belfast and Dublin’s Vicar Street, where the Murphy brothers will be joined by their original band line-up to perform their debut album Songs For The Tempted, along with their latest, in show entitled Then and Now.