A Roadtrip Along The West Of Ireland – A Mixtape by Maria Kelly

ROADTRIP! Whilst we’re slightly limited by being on a pretty puny island, there’s still a certain distinctive, coming of age charm to piling into a car with your mates and hitting the open road. A good part of that charm comes from having access to a ludicrously loud stereo, and no real reason to turn it down.

Like any playlist, there’s a real art-form to making a good roadtrip mixtape. Sure Joanna Newsom or Jeffrey Lewis are great, but unless you’re in some new fangled silenced engine type car, once you get over 30mph you’re not going to make out a single word. Good road music has to be loud, full of drums, and more about the way it makes you feel than the words you hear. It’s all about the bass that hits you in the chest, the sing-along choruses, and the scorching assault of electric guitars.

The cars of teenagers are also, of course, about the only place you’ll still find a working cassette player – so for once when we say mixtape, we actually mean old-fashioned mixtapes, in all their wobbly, favourite song recorded off the radio glory. So make yourself a tape, jump in the car, and then hope, unlike us, you actually bothered to learn how to drive.

MariaKelly-EP Artwork
All photos by Deborah Sheedy – https://www.facebook.com/DeborahSheedyPhotography/

Growing up in Mayo in Ireland, Maria Kelly first started writing songs when she was aged just ten. Maria is now studying music at BIMM Dublin, and it was there she met the musicians who would go on to become her backing band. After three well received singles, Maria is this month set to take a huge leap forward with the release of her debut EP, The Things I Should.

Discussing the inspiration behind The Things I Should, Maria has suggested it’s an exploration into the difficulty of self-expression, “these four songs are written about four different personal experiences, where a lack of honest expression at the outset had created a much bigger problem in the long run”. Listening to this record though, you’d be surprised, because the earnest songwriting suggests a songwriter capable of tapping into places of strong emotion.

The Things I Should is a record of gentle, slow revelations; from the intimate picking of Far Below, with all its fret-buzzing beauty, through to the gently plucked acoustics and mesmerising strings of Torn Into Two, and the percussive Daughter-like melancholy of Where’s The Worth. Throughout the EP though, it’s the sheer calibre of the vocal that truly shines. It’s an instrument of beautiful control, stunning tone, and a youthful, emotional quality, that makes every half-whispered lyric sound like it’s foretelling some inevitable, apocalyptic heartbreak.

Currently on tour, predominantly in her native Ireland, Maria is a musician maturing rapidly and discovering way to express herself beyond just her spoken words, and while The Things I Should might just be a beginning, it’s an incredibly promising place to start.

Today, Maria has put together a mixtape for a road trip down the West coast of her native Ireland, featuring the likes of Villagers, The Undertones and of course B*Witched, the reasoning of which she explains below.

When I lived in the West of Ireland, I went on a lot of drives with both my family and friends, exploring the landscapes of Mayo and Galway. This mixtape is an eclectic mix of songs to soundtrack those memories, mainly by Irish artists but with some of my parent’s favourite road trip choices and a handful of songs from summer drives with my friends thrown in. And B*Witched. Because you can’t forget B*Witched.

1. Paul Simon – Graceland

This song (and whole album in fact) was the soundtrack of my 2014 summer. I was just about to move away from home for the first time  and I spent that summer driving through the most remote landscapes of Mayo, my best friend at the wheel.

2. Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere

Fleetwood Mac were a favourite of my parents and I distinctly remember this song blasting out the windows as we drove to Tourmakeady Woods and had a picnic by the waterfall. 

3. The Corrs – Breathless

Ah! The Corrs. My mum’s favourite Irish band. Their albums would be on repeat as she’d pick me up from school. 

4. Phil Collins – Something Happened On The Way To Heaven

When I was 17, I had my first recording experience. I got to record some songs in this tiny studio in Leitrim and my dad would very kindly drive me there and back each weekend. This song was our go to ‘bop’ on the long drive home.

5. B*Witched – C’est La Vie

Do I need to explain this one!? I had to include this. An Irish classic (lol)

6. Lisa Hannigan – Knots

I discovered Lisa Hannigan when I was about 16 and had just started playing the ukulele. Any long trip from Mayo to Galway or Dublin, her album ‘Passenger’ was blasting through my ear phones.

6. Villagers – That Day?

When my friends and I were younger, we loved the Villagers (we still do!) and we made the trek to Sligo a few years ago to see them play. We listened to them on repeat all the way and all the way back!

8. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks

Another song from my parent’s road trips. My dad loved a bit of rock!

The Things I Should is out May 19th via Veta Records. Click HERE for more information on Maria Kelly.


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