Novelist Michael Cunningham previews new Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Thomas Bartlett album

I listen to music, various kinds of music, every morning before I start writing.  I need music to re-activate the molecules of the air in my studio, which tend to go dormant overnight.  

And I need music to remind me that it’s possible­—just barely possible, but still—for human beings, whether they’re musicians or writers, to express that which technically can’t be expressed at all.

By which I mean… well, the ineffable mournful gorgeousness of our lives… the joys and sorrows too subtle to explain directly… our collective sense of time blowing through us, of our own buoyant if fragile hearts, our need to connect in ways we can’t really describe even to ourselves…

Music that conveys anything like that is, as I’m sure you can imagine, difficult to find.

I’ve been playing a new album by Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh and Thomas Bartlett, and I know I’ll be listening to it, every morning, for a long, long while.  Although it’s beautiful, the word “beautiful” has been cheapened by overuse.  Yes it’s beautiful but it’s also heartbreaking and mysterious and insistently, insinuatingly alive.

That said…

Like all the best music, it can really only describe itself.  I could only truly convey it to you by playing it for you.

Since that’s not possible, I hope you’ll play it for yourself.

Listen

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Thomas Bartlett’s self-titled debut album is released on 13 September on Real World Records. Two tracks, ‘Kestrel’ and ‘Strange Vessels’ are available to stream now.

Pre-order/Listen

MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, Specimen Days, By Nightfall, and The Snow Queen, as well as the collection A Wild Swan and Other Tales, and the nonfiction book Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker and The Best American Short Stories. The Hours was a New York Times bestseller, and the winner of both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Raised in Los Angeles, Michael Cunningham lives in New York City, and is a senior lecturer at Yale University.

Featured release

By Michael Cunningham

Published on Tue, 20 August 19

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