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Thursday 18 October 2018

Success has got Jenny's name on it

Dublin singer-songwriter Jenny Lindfors is always being compared to someone or other, but soon it may be Jenny who's the real 'someone'

Making it: Critics are loving Jenny Lindfors's new album, but she says she had to struggle
Making it: Critics are loving Jenny Lindfors's new album, but she says she had to struggle

Paul Byrne

We're a lazy lot, us journalists. When it comes to describing a piece of work, we always take the easy route of comparing it to something that already exists.

The recent Irish boxing drama Strength And Honour? Hey, it's Rocky Balboa And The Little People. Killinaskully? The Riordans, without the laughs. Coldplay? Radiohead on a Gap shoot.

When it comes to critics trying to describe her music, the young Dublin singer Jenny Lindfors has heard them all. Martha Wainwright, Laura Viers, Aimee Mann, Karen Dalton, Joan As Police Woman, Joni Mitchell, Joanna Newsom ...

"The list goes on and on," says Lindfors. "I get compared to so many different singers, and certain ones come up again and again. The great thing is, I wouldn't know half of them if they walked up to me on the street and bit me."

The half Jenny Lindfors does know tend to be of a certain age, Joni Mitchell having been very much a part of her parents' record collection, alongside the likes of Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

The young Jenny Lindfors was always fascinated by her parents' record collection. Not just the soothing West Coast "Laurel Canyon thing" that was emanating from the speakers, but also the sleeves, the artwork, and the outrageous sideburns on the musicians themselves.

Seeing the beautiful Stevie Nicks surrounded by a group of scarily hairy men on the back of the Rumours album is an image that had a profound effect on the young Ms Lindfors.

"I'm just a firm believer in the album sleeve being part of the whole experience," she says. "I was just a little kid when I got into Rumours, and that wonderful music, all that heartbreak, and the album sleeve, they're all intertwined in my mind, like some magnificent childhood fairytale. That's what I think all albums should be like ... "

Taking a break from rehearsals for her gig at Whelan's on Monday, Dec 17, Lindfors is, naturally enough, keen to talk about her own album, When The Night Time Comes.

PAUL BYRNE: By the age of six, you were writing songs; aged 12, you were mastering the guitar; two years later, you were rocking out in Temple Bar's Rock Garden. So, there's never been any doubt in your mind then ... ?

JENNY LINDFORS: It was never going to be any other way. I remember being two or three, and being completely enthralled by music, by albums, by this whole world. It was just in my blood from a very early age.

So, given these fine West Coast sounds that you were listening to so young, I'm going to guess that your parents were hippies, right?

There was no Daniel O'Donnell or anything like that, in their collection. They're cool parents, and they're eclectic in their tastes, and we have a great relationship now. I feel like they're my peers. But they wouldn't be all-out hippys today, but they probably were in their day. They just have a very open mind about things ...

Your album has managed to nab some rave reviews, not only from the usual suspects, such as Hot Press and The Sunday Times, but also from one rather unusual fan, Pat Kenny, who reckons you're a well-kept secret who's "fully formed ... mature ... terrific ... with a touch of Mama Cass in her voice". Yowsa -- Pat Kenny likes you.

Pat Kenny likes me a lot! He's been so helpful, and I'm not going to be all tight-lipped and sanctimonious here and say nothing. He's been amazingly supportive, and he even rang me about two years ago, when I was having a barbecue, and had been drinking for a few hours, and I just didn't quite believe it was him on the line. And he was just full of praise for my music, he's been brilliant ...

Those early years, playing gigs to very small crowds around the country -- character-building stuff?

Yeah, it was really hard work. Everyone has a different path, and my path, from 2003 to 2005, was pretty thankless. I think for my ego, it was very necessary though, being cut down to size, and struggling a bit, and not having everything fall into your lap.

That would have been a disaster for me. But things really picked up when I released my EP a few years ago, especially with the press really responding to it. I felt legitimised then, with a certain amount of clout and confidence.

A singer-songwriter in Ireland is going to have to spend at least a few years struggling away just to prove they're not shit. Because the country's over-saturated with singer-songwriters. So, that was what I had to do.

Touring the toilets of Ireland for three years, did you ever give any thought to becoming an accountant?

Never. No, because even when you do a shit gig, there's always something to make it worthwhile. Even if it's just how the moon looks on the drive home. You just always feel like you're doing what you should be doing.

You sound optimistic, or is it still a struggle?

Well, I'm not making a living from it, but I'm really happy with my life. I've got a nice part-time job, and I'm DJing, and the gigs are a pleasure. I'm writing a lot lately too. Life is pretty sweet.

Jenny Lindfors plays Whelan's on December 17, and DJs at Africana in Crawdaddy on December 28. Her debut album, 'When The Night Comes In', is out now

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