Release date july 16th, 2021
Mark Duggan is a singer-songwriter from Waterford, Ireland. From the age of nine years old he has been writing songs and playing guitar after borrowing his cousin’s guitar and learning some chords off of his father. At twelve he began recording his songs using an old USB headset microphone and has been producing his own music ever since. Over the years he has developed a sound which combines folk and indie with electronic elements, complete with clever lyricism and thoughtful songwriting. He is inspired by the writing of Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchel, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. He is also influenced by a number of artists known for their willingness to play with sound such as Gorillaz and U2. Over the years he has also learned to play mandolin, bass and harmonica along with gaining more experience in recording engineering and production. As well as writing for his own releases he has also co-written the song The Road on Irish artist Dunluvly’s first EP along with performing at gigs with Dunluvly and queer-pop band Babylamb where he has been able to maintain an audience’s absolute attention for quiet songs and have them dancing around and singing along by the end.
In September of 2018 he released his debut single Hey Blue, a song with a catchy melody and riff on top of a bed of guitars and percussion. The lyrics are an optimistic look towards the first night of the weekend where the chance of romance is bubbling away. The song has an infectious character that has kept it consistent in live gig setlists.
In June of 2019 he released an EP titled Long Way Home which was also his final year project in college. The EP consists of twelve songs that join together to create one cohesive twenty minute piece of music. The story follows a protagonist who is making his way home to his partner after being away working for an extended period of time and what occurs on the drive home with a focus on radio. The EP focuses on the theme of longing, bouncing between multiples genres, styles and tones all while maintaining its cohesive nature.
In February of 2020 he released the single As The Sun Hits The Day Down which is a simple acoustic track that takes its influences from the folk traditions of songs utilising multiple verses to tell the story within the song. A guitar riff and the hook of the title closing each verse provide the song with a momentum that carries the track to its final note.
Later that year he began the release of his next EP Just For The Night by releasing the single Promenade Firework Show. The indie-rock tune featured layered guitars, a retro drum machine, and a nostalgic, 80’s rock feel. The song took influence from a memory of summer nights spent by the sea as a teenage applied to the context of a couple who have hit a rocky moment in their relationship. The song uses a lot of pairings in its composition to mirror the pair of the couple. The use of a drum machine and Mark’s new telecaster sound was inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s home demos from 1983 and showed the first glimpse of the sound that would be essential to the EP.
At the start of 2021 the next single off the EP Lullaby (I’ll Be There) was released. The song once again made use of a drum loop with the base of a simple descending chord progression and layers of sound textures. The song is about someone trying to comfort their partner who is struggling to sleep. The narrator promises to be there for their partner even if they cannot necessarily makes things better. Both the emotions of the vocal and the intensity of the instrumental build towards a climatic slide guitar solo which fades away to a glistening sound which represents morning breaking through and a bit of hope prevailing.
The next month the rest of the EP was released with tracks Just For The Night, Not Sure, Truly Beautiful Thing and Desperation Blues added to the singles. Not Sure follows the singles by being built on a drum machine loop and making use of a telecaster sound while the other three songs are acoustic based tracks with the likes of harmonium, mandolin, tambourine and organ used to flesh out the instrumental. The EP as a whole has thematic link between songs focusing on the connections we make in life with each song having a specific moment of this on show. The EP has gone on to be Duggan’s most successful release so far with features in Irish music media from HotPress to 2Xfm and a much further reach in audience than any of his previous releases.
On July 16th, he will release a new single Run Out The Distance which is being paired with the b-side Dried Up Lovesick Blues (Swings And Roundabouts). The new single is a return to the use of a live drum sound which was recorded in February of last year. The song has been rewritten for over a year before being committed to the final recording. The song began with the title and the simple chord progression on an acoustic guitar. The opening lines had initially been part of an alternate version of As The Sun Hits The Day Down while the rest of the lyrics came out of multiple drafts taking up nearly ten pages in Duggan’s notebook full of completely different ideas or single word changes in a line. The song is about a character who has reached a moment of stasis in their life. They are trying to take stock of their position in life with a thought to what has been, what is and what will hopefully be. The narrator is trying to find their space in the world where they can make a good life and despite coming up short so far there is a sense of pushing through until they get there. There is a hope in the song that isn’t willing to give in too soon. The song has a laid back rhythm as the live drums carry along a collection of strumming acoustic guitars and a leaping bass line. The song had originally been intended to only have acoustic guitars but eventually electric guitars were added to give the song some more grit and punch. They also propel the song along and prevent it from becoming too lackadaisical. The harmonica sound that has been prominent in nearly all of Duggan’s career returns to fill instrumental sections of the song. The vocal performance matches the sentiment of the lyrics and the use of double tracking adds an extra reach to the chorus which builds to the emotional climax of the narrator committing to trying to keep moving forward and continue the search.
The b-side Dried Up Lovesick Blues (Swings And Roundabouts) is a simple blues song that builds over the course of three verses from a single electric guitar strumming gently to stomping bass drum and overdriven chords. The lyrics tell of a relationship that has fizzled out but not yet ended and is told with a resignation of the situation that fades away at the end of the song in a similar way to the relationship.