Main Stage Saturday, 13 July
The irresistible appeal of songwriting is the opportunity to give voice to the ineffable. For NewDad-singer/guitarist Julie Dawson, music has always served as a safe haven for articulating what she struggles to express elsewhere – a place where she can explore her deepest emotions without compromise. “I'm buried under blankets / Descending into madness / And there's no escape from the thoughts burned in my brain,” she coos on recent single ‘In My Head’, her confessions cocooned within Sean O’Dowd’s gauzy guitar textures. More widescreen in its scope than their previous releases, the song heralded the start of an ambitious new era for the Galway-formed four-piece. That vision is ultimately realised on Madra, NewDad’s hotly-anticipated debut for Atlantic Records. Produced by long-time collaborator Chris Ryan (Just Mustard, Arborist) at Rockfield Studios – with additional sessions at RAK Studios – it’s an album characterised by intoxicating, festival-ready melodies spanning dream-pop, post-punk and shoegaze. Where NewDad’s early releases saw Dawson impressionistically obscuring specifics by leaning on lyrical motifs like the sea, this 11-song collection is much more direct thematically. Openly examining her predilection for shame, guilt and self-sabotage – and how that ultimately impacts the people surrounding her – Madra is testament to Dawson’s vast creative growth.