Newspaper articles have long proved to be inspirational for scores of musicians. The Beatles' 'A Day in the Life' was written after John Lennon perused the paper on a January day in 1967 and came across an article about the aristocratic Irish playboy Tara Browne, who was killed in a London car crash.
The Human League's 'Don't You Want Me' was inspired by a feature in a women's magazine that Phil Oakey had happened upon, while AC/DC's 'Jailbreak' was inspired by a newspaper story Bon Scott read about the notorious Australian criminal Mark 'Chopper' Read.
And it was an article that inspired Joe Chester to pen a new song 'The Heart of Saint Laurence O'Toole' - a standout track on his impressive, just-released album Jupiter's Wife.
"His heart is kept at St Patrick's Cathedral and, one day, someone broke in and stole it," he says of the remains of the 12th century Archbishop of Dublin. "They left all the expensive ornaments, all those gold altar objects, and went straight for the relic. That person ended up burying his heart in the Phoenix Park, but it seemed to bring them and their family nothing but bad luck. So eventually they tipped off the authorities about where it had been buried - in the hope that their luck would change."
It's typical of Chester's approach to songwriting. Not for him the sort of clichéd fare that pockmarks the work of so many of his peers. Through his early work with the bands Sunbear and 10 Speed Racer, and on to his own solo output, he has amassed more than quarter of a century of high-quality music - songs that take their inspiration from many places. He should be a household name, yet his profile remains frustratingly low among the music-buying public.
Chances are, they are far more likely to know some of the acts he has helped to produce, such as Gemma Hayes and, more recently, the Coronas and Kodaline.
"I realised early on that if you want to make a living from music, you have to do several different things," he says, "and it helps if you know your way around a recording studio."
Chester has earned a reputation as not just a good producer, but the sort of studio boffin that artists love to work with. It's knowledge that comes in handy when the business of making his own albums comes up.
Although he has assembled a recording studio at the home in the south of France that he shares with his French musician wife Julie Bienvenu, he got the opportunity to part-record Jupiter's Wife in Sun Studios in Memphis. This self-styled 'birthplace of rock 'n' roll' was where Elvis recorded between 1953 and 1955 and where legendary producer Sam Phillips recorded the likes of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison.
"You sense the weight of history when you're there," he says, "knowing that so much amazing work happened in those four walls. But you know you're against the clock too and you have to work hard and hopefully be inspired by the thought of people that have gone before."
When Chester began work on what would become Jupiter's Wife, he imagined a launch show and plenty of tour dates. It is his first album of new music in three years and a concert at Dublin's Lost Lane venue was booked. It had been due to take place last weekend.
Then, in mid-March, all future gigs were in effect declared null and void. Covid-19 was on nobody's radar at the start of the year; now it's all-encompassing.
Chester's plans to visit family and friends in Dublin have been put on hold. Lockdown has been especially stringent in France; President Emmanuel Macron introduced tough measures to counter the spread of the virus. Even venturing outside your home for a walk was not a possibility for many under the tough rules.
"Like everyone, you just have to adapt to it," he says, via video call. "It's not ideal, but then it's hardly ideal for anyone."
Unlike others, he had no intention of delaying the release of his album. He quips that he has released albums to largely indifferent audiences in the past, so why change the habit of a lifetime.
Jupiter's Wife is a double album, and a substantial piece of work it is too. "You hear people say that the album is dead, but nothing could be further from the truth," he says. "Every artist I know wants to make albums and it's still the best way to get your music out there."
Together with wife Julie, Chester made a short film to mark the release of Jupiter's Wife. "I was saying to her the other day that it wouldn't have happened had coronavirus not happened because we would just have played shows as normal. But now, there's something tangible to show for it." The film, The Candle from the Shadow, can be viewed on his YouTube page.
The pair are members of A Lazarus Soul, the Dublin alt-folk band that, by stealth and over the course of five albums, has become something of a national treasure. Chester plays guitar; Bienvenu the drums.
When they decided to emigrate from Dublin - partly pushed out due to the high cost of living - A Lazarus Soul's main man Brian Brannigan was worried that it was the end of the band. "Half of the band were leaving the country," Chester recalls, "but we were sure that the band could go on."
Last year, their latest album, The D they Put Between the R & L, was released to high praise. Mystifyingly, it wasn't nominated for the Choice Music Prize - quite an omission for what was one of the very best Irish albums of the 2010s.
"When Brian first played me 'Lemon 7s' and 'No Hope Road', I knew it was going to be special," he says. Chester's guitar playing on the latter song is a reminder of how good he is on that instrument.
There are several songs that resonate powerfully on his new album too, including 'Staying Together for the Children'. "It was a phrase you'd hear growing up, about some unhappy couple who couldn't split because they had kids. It's a phrase that lingered in my mind and I just ran with it."
Chester may no longer be living in Dublin, but his childhood there has played an important part in his songs. His last album proper, 2017's The Easter Vigil, is suffused with religious imagery and is a study of a person who loses their belief in God. It's loosely based on Chester's own feelings about Christianity - he had a deep-rooted faith and in his teens, he gave serious consideration to becoming a priest.
One aspect of his life that has never wavered is his belief in his songs. His debut solo album A Murder of Crows got lots of people excited on its 2005 release and it was nominated for the Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of the Year. But his career didn't take off in the way that he might have hoped.
Anyone who heard the power-pop single 'How You Wish, You Feel' might have imagined Chester was destined for the big time. Today, there isn't a hint of bitterness when he talks of that time: "It gave me the belief to keep making music and although there have been tough times, it's something I'm still getting to do." There is, he adds, contentment in that.
Record company woes ensured that a follow-up album, She Darks Me, didn't get a proper release. Chester put it out online before finally - rights secured - he released a remastered version last year. "I'm glad to have it out properly," he says. "I'd always been proud of that album and now it officially exists."
Now, he has to rethink how to fulfil a love of playing live. He's not yet convinced about online shows. "You end up playing songs into a phone and then someone gets to listen to it on their phone," he says. "The sound quality diminishes. It's not how you'd want the songs to have been heard. But we'll see - depends on how long this goes on for, I suppose. Like any musician, I want my songs to be heard and I want to reach people. It's just a question about how best to do that."
'Jupiter's Wife' is out now