Heralding from a culture of storytelling and a rich musical heritage, London based G D Sweeney has combined his love of Bluegrass, Folk melodies and classic Country sounds with his Irish roots. His new-traditional style is the backdrop to the intriguing narratives and characters in his songs.
Born in Newry, County Down. He spent the first 20 years growing up on Northern Ireland. At aged 19, he entered a Belfast music store to buy a saxophone, but walked out instead with a five-string banjo. Characteristically unpredictable, and creatively restless, Sweeney would use the melodic potential introduced to him by the banjo to shape his future songwriting.
A long and peculiar history opened up to him, which lead Sweeney to Bluegrass music and relative genres like Americana and Country.
His first foray into original songwriting began with his Leicester based band ‘Swaggar’. His songs however, were probably more influenced by his penchant at the time for Rock, Pop and Soul music, than rustic country sounds. Sweeney developed and honed his songwriting craft during those years with the band and ultimately decided that his heart lay more firmly within the Americana genre and the presiding soundscapes that occupy his current material.
Although heavily influenced by the banjo, Sweeney pens most of his songs on guitar, which along with his love of poetry, he attributes to his ability to write infectious songs.
“There is inspiration for my songs in everyday conversations, observations of people, unintentional quips and in the poetry of both city and country life”.
His songwriting prowess was first brought to attention in 2001, when he won the Millennium Songwriting Competition in Northern Ireland. In recent times he has written for established pop band The South, (formally The Beautiful South) composing two songs on their 2012 album Sweet Refrains.
Like any good Country song, Sweeney’s life has taken a number of twists and turns. After careers in advertising, design and teaching, as well as writing for and fronting his band ‘Swaggar’, he has penned music for TV, as well as composing Leicester City Football Club’s official football anthem – Sea of Blue.
Aside from the banjo and guitar, Sweeney plays mandolin and dobro. and he has performed and collaborated with a number of renowned UK musicians over the years from the musical worlds of Rock, Pop and Reggae.
Sweeney’s debut album, ‘The Truth About Lies’ was released in May 2015 to fine acclaim. It is a musical account inspired by a poem that he wrote with the same title. The wit and wisdom of Ireland, the yearning of old fashioned Country and the dark wistful tones of European Folk music can be heard throughout the album.
His more recent single ‘Commercial Suicide’, is a nod to his love of ragtime music, and an ode; which is befitting of these strange uncertain times that we live in. You can be sure that whatever the world throws up at him, G D Sweeney will be at the ready to deliver it back to you in a wonderfully crafted song.
Gaz Birtles – The Beautiful South.