By Stevie Connor.
Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan has announced her upcoming solo album All My Friends, set for release on March 22 via Yep Roc. The 9-song collection - O’Donovan’s first self-produced LP - is inspired by the passage of the 19th amendment and the evolving landscape of women’s rights in America over the past century.
O’Donovan artfully draws on speeches and letters by suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt to write intricately filigreed new, original songs infused with modern perspective and her own experiences as a woman and mother. Amidst a lush, genre-blurring soundscape featuring brass, orchestra, girls’ choir, and O’Donovan’s own “stunning” (Rolling Stone) voice, All My Friends wrestles with questions of what has - and hasn’t - changed for American women in the 100 years since gaining the right to vote.
With today’s announcement - which coincides with what would be Chapman Catt’s 165th birthday - O’Donovan has unveiled the album title track “All My Friends.” Featuring The Westerlies, The Knights, and San Francisco Girls Chorus, the song memorializes the Tennessee summer of 1920, when voices for and against suffragism battled bitterly over the final state signatory needed to ratify the amendment. Watch the powerful lyric video HERE, created by filmmakers Steph Jenkins and Brian Lee using found footage (screengrabs below).
“The seeds of this song predate the entire project as a whole,” says O’Donovan of the lead single. “This song is about camaraderie, companionship, people united in common struggle against oppression. I imagine the women literally marching in Tennessee as the dawn lifted over the fields. I imagine the struggle of needing just one more state to ratify, and just how much weight that final vote held. I imagine the collective longing for the country of our birth to open her arms. The opening, featuring my voice in harmony with The Westerlies, sets the tone for the record. Slowly, the strings enter, enveloping the chorale in rich tones, and then when the band kicks in after that first verse, we hear the gorgeous aching sound of the San Francisco Girls Chorus.”
All My Friends, co-produced by O’Donovan, Eric Jacobsen and Darren Schneider, was mostly recorded at Full Sail University in Orlando by Schneider, Brooklyn Recording in Brooklyn and Power Station in Manhattan. The album was mixed by Schneider and mastered at Chicago Mastering by Bob Weston. The project follows O’Donovan’s 3x GRAMMY nominated 2022 album Age of Apathy, which NPR named “a moving self-portrait,” and No Depression called “an astounding accomplishment.” In addition to appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, CBS Saturday Morning, Kelly Clarkson and PBS Newshour, Pitchfork said O’Donovan “taps into the propulsion of prime Joni Mitchell,” while The New York Times praised the album’s “musical surprises: daring melodic leaps, unexpected chord progressions, [and] subtle rhythmic shifts.” Following the release of Age of Apathy, O’Donovan also recorded and toured behind a full album reinterpretation of Bruce Springsteen’s landmark Nebraska album, with performances at Newport Folk Festival, Tønder Festival, and more.
While Age of Apathy centred around coming to terms with indifference, All My Friendsreminds us of the power of collective action. Most of the songs on the album grew out of two commissions O’Donovan took on - from the Orlando Philharmonic where she now lives, and the FreshGrass Festival in her native Massachusetts. Following performances with both institutions, O’Donovan continued to explore the themes that would become All My Friends in full. The project features a number of special guests including Anaïs Mitchell, Sierra Hull, Noam Pikelny, The Knights, The Westerlies, The San Francisco Girls Chorus, Alan Hampton, Griffin Goldsmith and more.
All My Friends is available for pre-order on CD and multiple LP versions. The standard LP, available everywhere on March 22, is pressed on Violet colour vinyl. The indie/D2C only version has alternate cover art and is pressed on Ochre color vinyl with an autographed insert. In addition, Magnolia Record Club has an exclusive version with standard cover art pressed on Green vinyl with an autographed insert.
O’Donovan will tour the globe throughout 2024, with performances at Big Ears Festival (featuring the Knoxville Chamber Orchestra), FreshGrass Bentonville and more. Her previously-announced Barbican Hall debut in London is confirmed for June 18, with Eric Jacobsen conducting the Guildhall Session Orchestra and Music Centre London Session Choir. There will also be different touring configurations including acoustic shows and an upcoming collaboration with the band Hawktail. See below for a full list of dates including O’Donovan’s anticipated return to the Grand Ole Opry on March 27.
Aoife O’Donovan 2024 Tour Dates
January 25, 2024 - Copenhagen, DK - Bremen Theatre *
January 26, 2024 - Glasgow, UK - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ^
January 27, 2024 - Dublin, IE - National Stadium
February 10, 2024 - West Palm Beach - Kravis Center
March 24, 2024 - Knoxville, TN - Big Ears !
March 27, 2024 - Grand Ole Opry - Nashville, TN
March 30, 2024 - Denver, CO - Newman Center for the Performing Arts %
May 17, 2024 - Bentonville, AR - FreshGrass Bentonville
May 25, 2024 - Grass Valley, CA - Strawberry Music Festival %
June 18, 2024 - London, UK - Barbican Hall
* performing with the Danish String Quartet
^ performing with Scottish Chamber Orchestra
! performing with the Knoxville Chamber Orchestra
% performing with Hawktail
~ performing with Guildhall Session Orchestra and Music Centre London Session Choir
Aoife O’Donovan operates in a thrilling musical world beyond genre. Deemed “a vocalist of unerring instinct” by the New York Times, she has released three critically-acclaimed and boundary-blurring solo albums including her most recent record, 2022’s boldly orchestrated and literarily crafted Age Of Apathy.
A savvy and generous collaborator, Aoife is one third of the group I’m With Her with bandmates Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz. The trio’s debut album See You Around was hailed as “willfully open-hearted” by NPR Music. I’m With Her earned an Americana Music Association Award in 2019 for Duo/Group of the Year, and a Grammy-award in 2020 for Best American Roots Song.
O’Donovan spent the preceding decade as co-founder and front woman of the string band, Crooked Still and is the featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions — the group with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. She has appeared as a featured vocalist with over a dozen symphonies including the National Symphony Orchestra, written for Alison Krauss, performed with jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas, and spent a decade as a regular contributor to the radio variety shows “Live From Here” and “A Prairie Home Companion.”
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