Sligo Weekender - April 22 2003
"More than just one man"
‘One man’ music has never been as successful in Ireland as it is now.
Artists like Damien Rice, David Kitt, Mundy, David Gray and Paddy Casey have paved the way for young men with a power and a purpose to their music to be heard.
Pete Courtney is just such a man. After taking a few months off writing, Pete is back on the road and is coming to McGarrigles on Thursday, April 24.
The amiable young singer/songwriter got huge critical acclaim for his debut album “One of these Kids”, earning praise in the national press as well as throughout the country.
Since that CD was released two years ago, Pete has moved the game on a bit, creating even more music and collecting the cream to be included on his new album, due out in October of this year.
Pete’s work is not restricted to music either. An accomplished and published poet, he will be releasing his first book of poetry simultaneously with the new CD.
For the uninitiated Pete was one of the highlights at Witnness 2001 as well as the Summer Rising tour that year. Aside from his own headlines he has played with The Frames, Dave Kitt, Damien Rice, Paddy Casey - even Paul Brady and John Martyn.
He rose from the trenches in '97 after living and performing in New York where he did his own gigs as well as sharing nights with the likes of Jeff Buckley.
At his debut album launch Dave Kitt, Damien Rice, Steve Fanagan to mention a few joined him onstage to herald his coming of age.
Organic and modest his gigs incorporate changes in energy, from electric high intensity to the quiet and spiritual.
McGarrigles regulars will recognise him for his support role to Damien in McGarrigles last year.
He is off for a French tour in June as well as September, Germany in July and August, USA in October/November and finally Australia in December.
The important date for you to remember though is McGarrigles this Thursday, April 24.
The Irish Times - "One Of These Kids" August 15 2001
The affable Mr. Courtney is one of the better singer/songwriters on the Irish scene, and he can be found often in Whelans, Dublin, warming hearts with his gentle, self-effacing tunes. Rather than wait around to be discovered by Paul McGuinness, Courtney has had the wherewithal to put out his own debut album, helped a little by such musician friends as Ray Beggan and Paul Smith.
Courtney's songwriting is perhaps a little cosy and inoffensive, although 'Please Somebody', 'Sensible Shoes' and 'Fingers and Face' are well-rounded, subtly engaging tunes. 'Fairy Dance' and 'Chosen' however, wander off on winding acoustic guitar chord progressions, while 'Vociferous Consciousness Impulse' sounds like an aimless, New Age-y improv. At least 'Cushingtown' knows exactly where it's going: down to Dublin town on a whimsical, folksy stroll.
Irish Independent - Soundbite - August 10 2001
A live one to remember
Yes, Pete Courtney is yet another singer-songwriter in the Jeff Buckley mode. No, his music is not the most inventive you will hear this year. Yes, some of his lyrics are clichéd. But the Monaghan-born, Dublin-based Courtney is a name to remember. Already, he has established himself as a fine live performer and One Of These Kids - his debut album - deserves high praise.
It showcases his twin trademark talents - a stunning voice and a guitar prowess to match the best. This is an intense and intimate album with a raw, 'live' feel, probably helped by the fact that it was home-recorded.
The infectious opener, 'Please Somebody', captures well the mingled pleasure and pain of too much alcohol. The sparkling 'Fingers and Face' features subtle, gorgeous backing vocals from Jenny Burke. The mellow 'Sensible Shoes' and 'Vociferous Consciousness Impulse' sees David Kitt's regular keyboardist, Paul Smith, adding some welcome background sounds to accompany Courtney's understated guitar.
The latter is spoken - a bottom-of-the-heart plea for a Utopian world. On first listen, it calls to mind 'When A Child Is Born' (no kidding!) - but to his credit, Courtney steers it away from the farcical. It's actually quite touching.
The largely instrumental 'Fairy Dance' is toe-tappingly delightful. 'Kissing Stars', which closes the nine-track album, is beautiful. Only a curmudgeon could find fault with it.
Pete Courtney has released this on his own label, Tonal Music. But without the big bucks of an industry behemoth, he may not receive the exposure he deserves. One Of These Kids celebrates simple, honest, melodic music that tugs gently at the heart-strings. It's a commendable debut from a fine young talent with considerable promise.
Athlone.ie - Palace Loft, Athlone
Renowned across the country as one of the most compelling live performers on the Irish circuit, Monaghan-born singer/songwriter Pete Courtney performed a brilliant set in the Palace Loft last Wednesday night to a packed house.
The Mullingar-based maestro has a habit of leaving audiences spellbound as he weaves his plaintive tales of hang-overs and mournful wanderings - each one suffused with a bantam kernel of hope that marks him out amongst his contemporaries.
Athlone audiences had the opportunity to hear exactly why the Irish Times called him, “a live one to remember, a guitar playing prowess up there with the best” when he performed at the popular venue last week.
Tracks from his debut album ‘One of these kids’ went hand-in-hand with new material from his forthcoming second album ‘Songs from the Holistic Museum’. Pete’s natural stage manner held his audience captive throughout and tracks such as ‘Sensible Shoes’, and ‘Fingers and Face’ were simply outstanding.
Never afraid to experiment with a different guitar effect or gadget, Pete is well known for entertaining audiences with something different at various intervals. An old radio radio and a clothes brush were used during the Athlone show at different times. His greatest achievement within this is that he never lets the gadget/effect take away from the essence of the song.
Supporting with him on the night was AIT student and Mullingar-born performer Fiachra Milner who entertained the crowd with some great originals and cover versions and new acoustic-based Athlone act My Fallen Empire.
Pete’s 2001 debut album won plaudits across the board leaving critics unanimous in their praise. The beautifully crafted debut LP lifted Pete to the very forefront of the Irish singer/songwriter scene which has been a popular source of music journalism column inches in recent years.
Over the past few years, Pete has been concentrating on developing his fan base in countries such as France, Germany and India, picking up a little something from each country which finds its way into a verse or chorus here and there.
But with his second album scheduled for release in the first half of next year, Pete is now once again focusing his talents on Irish audiences and playing in as many new venues as possible along the way. Always an advocate of gigs in areas beyond the bigger cities, prior to his Palace performance Pete said he was looking forward to his first appearance in Athlone.
“I’ve heard of the Palace loft from a few people and I’ve had good reports,” he says. “So I’m definitely looking forward to playing my first gig in Athlone,” he said.
Despite this being his first musical sojourn to Athlone, Pete is no stranger to the region. Although a Monaghan native, Pete has been living in Mullingar for some time now and has made plans with Westmeath County Council to host a series of young musicians workshops in the county, which will be taking place in areas such as Mullingar, Athlone and Moate in the first few months of next year.
“It’s great working with kids,” he says. “They’re so energetic and enthusiastic. I’m there to try and help them to do it themselves. I wish I’d had someone there when I was there age to give them a helping hand so it’s a really positive thing. I love the whole idea of interaction, of working with different people,” he adds.
As well as gigs and workshops, Pete is also in the process of finishing his second record, which has been mainly recorded at a new studio based in Drumlish, Co. Longford.
“It’s definitely a slow process. The last album was quite organic - this one has more going on with it. There’s more production there but it’s still definitely left-of-centre.
“I suppose it’s somewhere between the last one and where I want to go with the third album,” he says. The new album, which will be titled ‘Stories from the Holistic Museum’ comes as part of a planned triptych, with the material for all three albums written already.
“The second one will be rockier with some more people involved and the third will be quite avante-garde with a lot more people involved. That’s where I want to go,” he adds.
Of his debut album, Pete says he was overwhelmed by the response from both the public and critics alike. “It kick-started my career, really. I had been at a certain level for a number of years and this changed everything.”
Having spent years playing everywhere from New York to rural Ireland, Pete is now an established artist with a successful record behind him and he has bright hopes for the future.
“It’s all about getting out there and playing, recreating awareness and creating awareness where there was none before. That’s the plan,” he adds.
Westmeath Examiner - Witnness review
Also performing on Saturday was the amiable Monaghan singer Pete Courtney, a familiar face to gig goers in Mullingar via some crafty support slots, festival appearances and occasional headliners. As Declan Byrne mentioned above, Pete has put an admirable amount of work in during the past year and it paid off handsomely with not one, but two appearances at Witnness over the weekend.
His first, to a packed Witnness Café tent just as the Waterboys were finishing off a superb set on the main stage and as the rain began to fall, was nothing short of a triumph. Faced with one of the biggest crowds he's ever played to, Pete took things in his stride. Since his band consisted of, eh, a teddy bear (I kid you not) for 40 minutes or so it was just Pete, his guitar and an arsenal of great songs.
Playing solo to an up-for-it festival crowd has got to be a hard task but Courtney's natural charm and smooth tunes won them over with consummate ease. His set to savour drew mainly from his just released debut album, while stripped of their studio embellished bits and bobs, stood tall and proud. Never once did and in dedicating 'Certified' to a lady recently recovered from a serious car accident Pete had the crowd 100% on his side.
He opened with the largely instrumental 'Fairy Dance' - a piledriving acoustic toe tapper dripping with a Led Zeppelin-esque chord structure. From here on he had the crowds undivided attention. 'Fingers and Face' soon followed and with it he had the crowd nodding along knowingly.
As the rain fell outside he decided to add in some river effects to 'Abide By' which suited the occasion and the song itself, while sombrely played, was one of the most moving songs heard all weekend. Then came 'Certified' and the set closed too soon with a stirring 'Please Somebody' - the opening track from his debut album and, with it's lyrics of shaky hangovers, the perfect song for a weekend long festival.
And with its conclusion he was gone, only to reappear an hour later in the Treatment tent, a special tent set up for TV purposes in the VIP area. Here Pete played a brief 3 song set, more intense than his set in the Café stage but equally as enjoyable. 'Kissing Stars' stood out in particular but it was 'Please Somebody' that perfectly captured the mood of the weekend and further added to the feeling that Pete Courtney is a name to watch out for.
The Event Guide - "Courtney Love" - May 16 2001
Singer/Songwriter Pete Courtney has just released his debut album 'One Of These Kids'. Cat Hughes pours the tea.
It's sunny out. In the park across the street, birds sing, kids play, everyone smiles. And here you sit, in the corner of a gloomy pub, the same pasty shade you were this morning. But it's all ok, because you're interviewing Pete Courtney. Possibly the most amiable man in music, this Monaghan born, Dublin based singer/songwriter's laid-back approach to life has made gig-going over the past few years a positively healthy experience. "I've noticed, at other gigs, there can be a lot of tension in the room. And personally, even if it's a high-energy gig, I think it's really important to feel relaxed. And I hope that comes across with me. It's not about rock'n'roll or alienating anyone. It's just about sitting back and listening to the song - the profundity. It should be light-hearted".
And just to brighten your day, Pete has released an album of equally calming charms. Mixing a gentle philosophy, a sense of irony, a voice, an acoustic guitar, and the odd perfect extra: 'One Of These Kids' is the ideal accompaniment to your lazy summer days. And it seems that relaxed mood was more than evident during recording. "A lot of it was intentional, but then some of it was really erratic. We recorded it with the windows open - with birds singing along and doing backing vocals. And sometimes we'd to stop cos there was a siren or a car alarm. So there was just this lovely warm feeling while we were recording. It just felt really creative".
With the British press giddy over their oh-so-catchily titled 'New Acoustic Movement'. And our own shores littered with a fresh breed of singer/songwriter - that's less earnest conceit and furrowed brow, and more easy charms and fragile beauty. It seems the world is paying new attention to the troubled troubadour. "They've always been there though. There's an age in every decade when people get really disillusioned with what's going on, and that's reflected socially and in the arts. So I think, almost by necessity, people are more aware of the singer/songwriters that are around - the ones with messages aswell, it's not all just about their own therapy".
And the message on 'One Of these Kids' takes the form of a quiet, warm-hearted spirituality, that neatly side steps any tree-hugger tendencies with it's gentle sense of humour (and perhaps a touch of his metaller kid roots). And to help Pete on this mission..a fluffy, foot-tall philosopher has been spotted sharing the stage with him - one of the centuries finest thinkers (no really), Winnie the Pooh. "Of all the things I've learned - magical, mystical and material - he's a composition of the whole lot. The whole symbolism of Owl - who's the intellect - he thinks about things too much, whereas Pooh just trusts his instincts and redeems situations, cos it's his heart that he's working with. It's amazing when you read it in that light. It really sums up so much of western society. The truth it tells. It's just about being good. And being good is really easy. It's a manifesto for the world. And I love honey!".
CD Review - "One Of These Kids"
You know, it's that old Sesame Street song: "One of these kids is doing their own thing, one of these kids is not quite the same." But Pete Courtney is neither a very tall bird, nor does he live in a bin. It does however all make sense because for his debut album, he is doing things a little differently.
The Monaghan born, Dublin based (whisper it, apparently they're dirty words these days) has released a record of timid charm, that manages to mix, amongst other things, an acoustic guitar and irony - who'd a thunk it? 'Please Somebody' delivers hints of Paul Simon, but in that simple, clarity of melody rather than the dull, coffee table monotony.
The wonderfully named 'Sensible Shoes' displays a voice pure and perfect enough to make you wonder if the man has ever seen a cigarette. While 'Fingers and Face', with vocals, guitar and a tiny touch of atmospherics is quite possibly the catchiest song you will ever hear. But it's in the even gentler moments that Pete really excels. 'Jesus Sweat' is a quiet conversation of even quieter love. And 'Kissing Stars' is the perfect closing lullaby.
While other singer/songwriters might prove that a furrowed brow and self-importance equate to neither real passion nor honesty: Pete, with an amiable smile and sweet philosophy has delivered both. And, while he's at it, the perfect soundtrack to those lazy, warm sunsets to come. That Pete Courtney, he's not quite the same.
RTÉ.ie - "One Of These Kids" - June 14 2001
Tonal Music - 2001 - 37 minutes
This kid is doing his own thing. Pete Courtney's debut, taking its name from the old Sesame Street song, is self-released following on the heels of other independent Irish records such as Steve Fanagan's 'There Is Hope' and The Frames' 'For The Birds'.
Opening with the catchy 'Please Sombody', the album blossoms with the balladic 'Sensible Shoes' and the gorgeous opening of 'Fingers and Face'. 'Vociferous Consciousness Impulse' sounds like Monaghan born Courtney has been influenced by some of Yo La Tengo's collaborations with Jad Fair. The humorous 'Cushingtown' is rooted in a Dublin of cool barmen and Tower Records.
Although at times the production makes you think that Courtney is singing from the bottom of a very deep well, this album has enough charm to just about pull it off. Join him - as he asks on the final track - "in kissing the stars".
Caroline Hennessy, 2/5
Hot Press - "One Of These Kids" - August 16 2001
Even before his inclusion on the most recent Witnness Rising tour, Pete Courtney had done a lot of travelling, and happily, it shows: his debut album still smells delightfully of open air and new places, and is full of the wisdom that comes from going everywhere, letting your immediate situation fall away and figuring out what’s important from what’s left. Thus, these are friendly, summery wanderer’s songs: simple, but deceptively so.
Courtney owes less to Dylan, Drake and the usual Dublin-beloved canon than to the 1960s-born bloodline of troubadour-philosophers like Cat Stevens or Gordon Lightfoot - ‘Sensible Shoes’ and ‘Jesus Sweat’ are open, bittersweet and complex, with the optimism of the pure heart tempered, but not spoiled, by the clear vision of experience. And, more than once (as on ‘Chosen,’ or the unfortunately named ‘Fairy Dance,’ which is a million times more complex a creature than it sounds) his impassioned guitars and steady, fiery delivery almost recall Woodstock-era Richie Havens, albeit on a much more innocent and apolitical scale.
A really lovely debut, and no better companion for thoughtful wandering and travelling light.
Rating: 9 / 12
Hot Press - Change of direction for Pete Courtney 26/7/2007
Pete Courtney has decided to revise the title and content of his forthcoming second album.
The Monagahan-born singer-songwriter has scrapped the working title for the album, Songs From The Holistic Museum.
"A lot of that material and concept has been directed into something a little more literal," said Pete.
He's been working on new material with producer Marcus McCarthy at the Music Watchtower Studio in Cork.
Courtney's keeping tight-lipped about the new title until the album release, but he has revealed that the first single, 'Instinct' wil be released digitally in August.
He'll also be hitting the road to showcase the new material. The following appearances are already lined up, with more dates still to be confirmed:
Bewley's Cafe Theatre, Dublin - August 9
The Stables, Mullingar - August 11
The Spirit Store, Dundalk - August 15
The Roundy, Cork - August 16
Welcome to Pete Courtney’s page here on podcasts.ie. For many live gig fans, Pete Courtney, would have been one of the best international solo performers and known for his live performances between 2001 and 2006. Though he flew below the media radar for most of that time he was proficiently active here in Ireland and especially in Spain, Germany, France, India and the USA.
Pete’s debut album “One Of These Kids” lifted him from the trenches into the national consciousness. Critics and the public overwhelmingly enthused over his humble offering which was released through his own independent company Tonal Music in 2001. Participation in the Witness Rising tour the same year and the festival itself in Fairyhouse upped Pete’s profile immensely, eventually creating a wider listening audience for his left-of-center style.
When Pete launched “One of these kids” in Whelan’s in 2001, Dave Kitt, Damien Rice, Steve Fanagan, Canadian song smith James Moore and Alice Jago all played with him for the encore. He was the only orthodox performer invited to play at the Experience festival in India, hosted by the World University of Consciousness in 2003, playing 5 shows over 10 days. When playing on the same bill in New York in 1997, Jeff Buckley was talking with and encouraged Pete to follow his heart, he has done ever since. Pete was one of the merry troupe who sang “hey day” for the Mic Christopher tribute and rang in the new year on the Gay Byrne special in 2004.
Pete’s current album ‘Karma Biscuits’ has been long in development but certainly not short on structure, complexity and pure listening enjoyment. Pete started recording “karma biscuits” in 2007, recording and releasing creativity for him was about personal reflective quality, not quantity. In that same intuitive spirit Pete has waited until now to release this new offering as he believes a socially fresh and positive cycle has returned and the music industries dynamics have favourably shifted. So an album about one particular soul’s journey and how it maintains its spiritual strength and application of unconditional love to all relationship idioms, and to do it all with a contented smile on its face is totally apt.
Pete’s emphasis within music has always been to create and perform honestly and naturally. One can expect some self-effacing stories as well as many tricks and sonic gadgets that other folk would not consider employing into music. Sometimes guest appearance’s from the most evolved session musicians based in Ireland join in with him to enhance the experience of his shows.
An innovative sonic singer/songwriter that massages your heart and transforms the ordinary into something naturally beautiful!
At Podcasts.ie you will get a flavour of Pete’s performance style , we took a pew outside The Dock Arts Centre in Carrick on Shannon and Pete played an exclusive acoustic selection of tracks from both albums in the open air with river boats put putting along the Shannon and the birds vying for attention alongside his music. These are rare performances and by way of an introduction to Pete’s songwriting style we are firstly including an interview with him about his work, you can click on the audio file below. Details of Pete’s live performances are available here.
In our second podcasts you can listen to exclusive performances from his debut album “One of These Kids”.