Ali Comerford – Knots
Classically trained Kilkenny folk singer invites us inside on glistening new single.
Ali Comerford is an artist with music coarsening through her veins. She has lived it, and loved it, dedicating huge chunks of her life to the task of mastering the medium.
Her journey began at 4 years of age when she began studying and playing classical music. After obtaining a Masters of Violin Performance from London’s Royal College of Music, she relocated to New York, completing a Masters of Music in Viola Performance at the Manhattan School of Music on scholarship. Since then, she has graced the likes of New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall and Dublin’s National Concert Hall, toured the world with Lincoln Center Stage, and performed in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
Ali came home to Jenkinstown in Co. Kilkenny just in time for the pandemic to hit. Faced with her biggest stretch of free time in 14 years, Ali found herself alone with her emotions like many artists around the world. Deep introspective sessions saw her develop a set of songs and a folk style that drew liberally from her classical training.
Ali’s first single ‘He Knows’ was rapturously received upon its release, and set the table nicely for a full-length project. She fastidiously set about creating an album that captured Ali’s magnetic artistic spirit and showcased her staggering musical talent. Now Comerford gives us a wonderful sample of that new album, as well as a poignant, peek into her own psyche.
With a shimmering clarity to her voice, Ali welcomes us to “Knots” emoting over a beautifully delicate piano track. Immediately we can sense the palpable frailty of the artist’s words, and a willing openness to share those internalised thoughts that we keep buried deep. One gets the feeling that Comerford is holding nothing back here, presenting an engaging combination of truth and metaphor to illustrate her unease. In doing so, Ali presents herself as an everywoman type figure.
She is describing the inner conflict we all feel at times, but Ali’s way of conveying these situations are so finely rendered that they hook the listener enough to elicit genuine empathy. A song this authentic could never be manufactured. Ali’s feeling in this are all her own, and she must be commended on her willingness to be so open. “Knots is a song I wrote about anxiety” explains Ali. “Something we all struggle with at one time or another. At the time, I was going through a stage of intense anxiety. I worried about the fact that I hadn’t released any music, about whether people would enjoy my songs or not and also overanalyzed every little thing I had ever done wrong. I wasn’t sleeping properly and found I was lying awake at night replaying old conversations and feeling ashamed and embarrassed.”
The track is rendered marvellously, maintaining the perfect harmony between piano and voice. There is loneliness at the core of this track that is brought out beautifully by the tender minimalism of the production. This also highlights the message of the track, one which is so important in today’s society. “Anxiety is an extremely isolating thing because when you’re in it, you believe that you are the only person who feels like this. I think it’s powerful when people can speak about their own struggles and maybe eventually it will help us all feel less alone.”
If this is the type of openness and artistic dedication that we can expect from Ali’s upcoming album, then it is sure to be both a personal and artistic triumph. I suppose the artists curse is to be constantly critical of one’s own work, and sometimes praise is taken with a pinch of salt. For that reason, I want to make perfectly clear that this song is an extraordinarily beautiful song that should be heard by everyone who feels like the weight of the world is too much. Kudos to Ali for letting us in.