Northern Irish born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter Ben Glover will be performing at Flowerfield in Portstewart on Thursday March 30.
The gig is part of a tour in support of his new album ‘The Emigrant’, which addresses the universal theme of immigration,
Co-produced by Glover and Neilson Hubbard, the album features six traditional folk songs and four original compositions (including co-writes with Gretchen Peters, Mary Gauthier and Tony Kerr) as Glover addresses the universal theme and personal challenge of immigration.
“Over the past couple of years, I have been going through the process of getting my U.S. Green Card, so the reality of immigration was very present in my world,” Glover says. “Contemplations like ‘What and where is home?’ were never far from my thoughts,” he adds.
To work through it all, Glover turned to music. “Around the same time, my interest in Irish roots music and folk ballads was rekindled. The project is my story - it’s who I am at this time in my life.”
Much like his current life, Glover’s childhood in the sleepy seaside village of Glenarm in Northern Ireland had a soundtrack from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
So, when he started playing gigs in the local pub at the age of 13, he played Irish music, of course, but he also slipped in songs from Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.
In the summers of his university years, Glover paid his way across the pond by performing Irish folk ballads along with the songs of Christy Moore and The Pogues in the bars in Boston, while back home in the pubs of Ireland he was singing Dylan and Springsteen.
In 2009, Glover relocated to Nashville and immersed himself in Southern culture.
Those experiences informed and infused the soul of his acclaimed 2014 solo album, Atlantic. With The Emigrant, Glover continues to search for his place in the world.
“It all began with the song ‘The Emigrant,” he says. “I started writing that on a solo writing retreat I went on in rural Ireland and ended up finishing it with Gretchen Peters in Nashville. When that song arrived, it unlocked a desire to make an album that brought together an older tradition with a present-day spirit.”
Glover collected Irish and folk songs around the ideas of immigration, displacement, and searching. He also turned to another one of his most-trusted collaborators: Mary Gauthier. Glover is a frequent co-writer with both Peters and Gauthier, having won International Song of the Year at the 2016 UK Americana Awards with Peters for “Blackbirds”.
“The main theme in all the songs had to be voice of someone who was figuring out their place in the world,” he explains.
“Once I tried them out in the studio, it was evident which songs belonged on the album. Musically, I wanted to keep it raw and organic and let the Celtic roots of the songs shine.”
Considering that the world’s political climate is currently rife with stories of refugees and xenophobia, Glover hopes The Emigrant offers some solace to its listeners.
“I would never claim to know what it’s like to be a refugee or to have to move because your life depended on it,” he offers.
“There are universal feelings, though, that all migrants experience - feelings of restlessness and a longing for something that only home, or our idea of home, can give.”
Tickets for the Portstewart show are on sale now from the Box Office on (028) 7083 1400.