Opening the door to success

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“THERE’S something really special about singing your songs in a live show and have someone come up to you and say ‘That really meant something to me’ or ‘I really understood that’. It’s just about connecting with people.”

That’s how Coleraine singer/songwriter Anthony Toner described what the release of his fourth album, A Light below the Door, means to him.

The ten-song album has already received wide airplay and is on the playlist of both BBC Radio Ulster and Downtown Radio as well as being the theme tune of the Progressive-sponsored weather bulletins on UTV.

“The track they chose is called “Well, Well, Well” from the album. It was chosen about six months ago but I didn’t realise it was airing until I got a text on Sunday evening asking was that my song on the radio?” explained Anthony.

“It’s lovely, it’s great exposure. I have been working steadily for three or four years so it’s great that someone in the media has recognised the work. It makes me feel very validated and there’s been a really warm reaction to it.”

Produced by Clive Culbertson at his No Sweat Studios in Coleraine, A Light below the Door takes it title from a line in one of the songs on the album.

“It comes from the second song on the album, Grateful. I wrote it on my first visit to Nashville when I woke up in the middle of the night and this line came into my head.

“It’s about opening the door to whatever comes along in life and you can take it one of two ways. Take it the best way. Be optimistic and be hopeful, don’t be fearful.

“The line seemed to be how I feel about life at the moment. I’m loving my work and my music and the people who are coming out to the live shows, so I’m very grateful.”

The album was created in an extraordinarily short time with Anthony finishing the project in two and a half months.

“I had six or seven songs that were finished and four or five that I needed to do a bit of work on,” he told the Times.

“It’s the quickest album I have done but I think it’s the better for that.

“You can go into a studio and stand singing ‘Oh baby baby I love you and hope you love me too’ for hours and it means nothing. What I hope people will think is that this album is interesting.

“I’m just trying to connect with people, trying to express what it like to be a middle aged guy living now in Northern Ireland and looking back on the good and bad times in life.

“I just feel it’s important to say something.”

The album features performances from some of Northern Ireland’s finest musicians, with Anthony’s warm voice and guitar at the heart of the recording sessions. Special guests on the album include Eilidh Patterson on harmonies and the legendary blues guitarist Ronnie Greer. Also featured are John McCullough on piano, Paul Hamilton on drums, Linley Hamilton on trumpet, David Howell on saxophone and Clive Culbertson on bass and vocals.

Later in the year Anthony will be returning to the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine with the songs of James Taylor from his album Mudslide Slim which is 40 years old this year.

“That album was such a big influence on me and we have just done the show and sold out at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival so it will be lovely to bring it to the Riverside.”

He will then move to Ballymoney in November for an “in the round” evening of music with Paul Casey and Eilidh Patterson before taking part in the now annual pre-Christmas concert in Flowerfield.

You can follow the success of Anthony’s new album on www.anthonytoner.net