Introducing Helen McCreary

1614486_836954003028812_6701703853260445023_oLet me introduce you all to the music of Helen McCreary. This wandering minstrel has travelled the world as an archaeologist but she has returned home to New York to pursue her love of music. This love began at the age of 4 when she started to play the cello which she says her parents made her do as a way to keep her quiet for a bit. Well, the quiet bit did not happen as she became a talented musician, and in the winter of 2013 she decided to pick up her guitar to begin writing her own music. During 2014 while located in Christchurch, New Zealand (while working as an archaeologist) she decided to use her music to record her journey. Then in early 2015 she moved back to the US and began recording her debut EP ‘Kaikoura’, which was released later that year. Now she has released her debut album ‘The Lovely Days’ which I will talk about that and her EP later in the review.

I am pleased to say that Helen was happy to talk about her music with me and answer some questions that I had, this is what she had to say:

Who or what inspired you to become a musician and which musicians have influenced your sound?

My parents are both musicians, and were inundating me with classical music before I was even born. They started me on the cello when I was four, then I started taking voice lessons. Funnily enough, I never even dreamed of doing music professionally until two years ago, when my brother suggested that I try writing melodies to old poems (lyrics were the real sticking point for me). Ever since then, I’ve been hooked. Creating music of your own is utterly addicting.

As for which musicians have influenced my sound… lots of people tell me I sound like Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez, but the weird thing is that I really haven’t listened to much of their music at all. Honestly, the artists who have probably influenced my sound the most are classical or musical theater singers – Julie Andrews, Kathleen Battle, etc. My parents never listened to anything else. Obviously, as I got older I started listening to lots of other music (you cannot even imagine my parents’ reaction to Eminem), but I think my fundamental idea of what music should sound like was shaped by classical artists.

When you write new music what is the important part to your process?

I really just need a good chunk of time without any distractions. Writing is often a very reflective process for me, and I need some space to take a breath and just think about things for a while. I’ll fiddle around on the guitar, playing with different sounds, and sooner or later something will come out that I like, and I’ll build on it. Usually the lyrics and melody come at the same time – like a really slow, halted musical. I’m trying to break free of this habit though, because I think it limits my writing.

Talking about writing music, which is your favourite song your EP and why?

My favorite song from the album? Ooh that’s hard. Obviously I love Heart Beats, because it’s so fun to play (I do it with a loop pedal and an electric cello) and it has such an interesting arrangement. But the song that’s closest to my heart is probably Kaikoura. It was released previously as part of my debut EP, and it’s about a tiny town on the northwest coast of the South Island of New Zealand. I worked in NZ for a year (that’s where I wrote most of the album), and Kaikoura is probably my favorite place in the whole world. I wrote the song in Brooklyn, when I was feeling incredibly homesick for a place I’m not even from.

If the world was going end and you had time to listen to one album, which would it be and why?

Probably Six60’s self-titled first album. They’re an amazing Kiwi band, they’ve got a sort of rock/reggae/soul sound that I’m completely in love with. It was the soundtrack to my time in New Zealand, so listening to it makes me happy. They’re releasing new music in the US soon, I fully expect them to blow up 🙂

What are you future plans and goals for your music?

Well, I’ve got a lot of new material in the pipeline, which I’m excited about. I want to keep exploring new sounds, collaborate with lots of people. I really want to form a band, and branch out into other genres. The sensitive folk-pop singer-songwriter thing is wonderful, but there are so many other sounds out there to play with.

‘Kaikoura’ is a solid little debut which was named after a coastal town in New Zealand that holds so many happy memories for her. I think this is reflected in the music which is beautiful to listen to thanks to her vocal presence. Each song has this laid back gentle sound that pulls you in and then the storytelling quality of her lyrics keeps you hooked. My highlight from this release is the song ‘This Bed’ as I love the lyrics on this one.

As I mentioned earlier, Helen has recently released her new album ‘The Lovely Days’. A year might have passed between releases but her music feels as if it has grown so much as she shows more confidence within her lyrical and vocals talents. Because of these improvements, this album gives us her best collection of songs to date and confirms that the music from Helen McCreary deserves our attention.

This album perfectly showcases what makes her music sound so good which is how her beautiful vocals blend with her soothing guitar style. Helen’s vocals floats along at it’s own pace throughout each song that is simply captivating. One of my favourite songs called ‘Heart Beats’ is a great example of this as her vocals demonstrate a nice control that gives us something so beautiful. This talent is supported by her six string friend who is her partner throughout this musical journey. Like her vocals, it is gentle and at times is really soothing. My favourite song ‘Don’t Wake’ shows off this talent at it’s best. The guitar sounds so simple but adds so much to this song and it also let’s us focus on the lyrics which also stand out for me. I have heard this song many times and it is one of those songs that never gets old.

Overall, this is a very impressive release which spotlights a wonderful vocal and guitar presence that will captivate and impress. Let’s not forget the music as it adds the right amount of emotion and atmosphere to help set the stage for Helen to share her lyrics with her story telling talent. I recommend that you head over to her Bandcamp page to listen to her album in full as well as her debut EP while you are there (click HERE). As always, if you like what you hear then you can help support her craft by purchasing the music while you are there.                        

I am already looking forward to hearing how Helen’s music will develop with her future releases. To find out when this will happen you can either visit her website at HelenMcCreary.com or alternatively go find her at her social media sites at Facebook and Twitter. These are also great places to find out more information about this talented musicians as well as future gigs dates.

As always, a little remind to support independent/unsigned music as it needs our help so it can grow. This can be either by attending gigs, buying the music or spreading the word about the music that matters to you. Hopefully the music by Helen McCreary is now included in this so go tell the world about her music today!