On his second full-length album, ‘Everybody’s Welcome’, Marty Ryan aka Anna’s Anchor provides a deeply personal collection of songs that challenges what is expected of him. When we’re growing up, we’re told to do well, get a good job and we’ll be happy yet as ‘Everybody’s Welcome’ shows, life isn’t that simple. Likewise, Marty has realised the beliefs and ideas that some people preach aren’t always executed by them.
Ahead of its release this week, Marty has penned a guest blog discussing the element of false hope that has been a burden to the Limerick musician in recent years. Marty gives us a detailed insight into his experiences and mindset that helped shape ‘Everybody’s Welcome’.
In the 6th Century, St. Munchin began building a church overlooking the beautiful river Shannon in my hometown, Limerick City. During the building of this church, he was in need of assistance to raise a heavy stone. He asked the helping hand of some local men that were passing by. The local men declined and continued on their way. Shortly after, some nomadic people passing through came to the help of St Munchin and helped him complete the final phases of the church. With this, St. Munchin put a curse on the people of Limerick City that they would forever be plagued with bad luck and that anyone visiting the city will be blessed with good luck. The curse of St. Munchin is not well known outside of the town but is on the lips of every Limerick person when things don’t go our way, it is ingrained into our mentality. A mentality which is quietly optimistic but also outwardly pessimistic because after all, things don’t usually go our way.
When asked by Already Heard to write a piece on the new Anna’s Anchor record and overarching themes, the first thing that came to mind was “False Hope”. Whether you believe in the curse of St. Munchin or that it is merely an excuse for misfortune that subconsciously is a cause for a lot of our letdowns, this conflict of beliefs is a very strong theme in our new album ‘Everybody’s Welcome’. It documents the last three or so years following on from our first album (‘Nautical Miles’).
The first album is very much a real-life concept album that took place from my lowest moment where due to alcohol abuse tearing my family apart, I truly felt that I was completely alone and couldn’t trust anyone. The album walks through that point song by song, to a point where I felt a lot more stable and put back together. By the end of the album, both in song and in my own head I felt that things were now all fine, I had gotten the help I needed. I had now graduated from University with a good degree, had gotten a good job with a decent salary and everything was in the past.
The reality couldn’t have been further from the truth. I hadn’t properly dealt with all of the overarching issues and had not come to terms with my family (or lack of) structure. Opting for burying myself in work, instead of giving time to myself and those around me. While this may be a dream for an employer, it’s a means of digging an early grave for an actual human being. In reflection, it’s very easy to see the alarm bells but the reality is, we’re constantly told throughout life, work hard at school, go to university, get a good job, live a happy life. I tried my best to do this, all the while pursuing music as much as I possibly could. All annual leave went to touring. Weekends and evenings to writing, practising and gigging. From the outside looking in I was having the best of both worlds, a stable work life while giving my passion a real go of it. There’s one thing being forgotten about there though, myself. This idea that the world around us was truly just a sense of false hope that I was clinging onto.
In a similar way, both in music and work, I was coming across a lot of people that outwardly display a certain message of what they think is right and how we should all live, only to find out that they don’t practice what they preach and are only out for their own personal gain. When you’re from a good honest working class background (& town) where people do what they say and stick by their beliefs, seeing the opposite of this in so many worlds was difficult to digest. I really do try my best to give people my time and help when they need and welcome them into my life if they want to be a part of it, but the reality is that a lot of people in the world that send out this message don’t stand by it at all.
The more I learn about life, I begin to realise that almost everything has a flipside to it and a sharp edge. Everybody’s Welcome is truly a two-sided coin, just like False Hope. Even though a lot of the last few years of my life has been filled with a false sense of hope, created by both myself and the world around, the flip side is that at least false hope does have hope buried within it and that’s an important distinction. If I rewind back to the very start of the first album, there was no hope at all. I was completely closed off where I was ironically sat in my car at St. Munchin’s church looking into the river Shannon with the most negative of thoughts in my head. While I have lost sight of the hope aspect throughout the period that ‘Everybody’s Welcome’ documents and lingered on the falseness of it all, I now am more aware and conscious of the relationship between the two. They will co-exist throughout life completely out of our control. The only thing we can control is how we react to it and all the obstacles that it throws in our way. I now appreciate that I will have to be cognisant of this throughout my life and keep a close eye on it.
I’m sat writing this piece early on a Wednesday morning before I start my new job as a music tutor, my dream job which will take a lot of weight off my shoulders. I’m after making a strong change that will help put a foot forward into hope, a change that took a long time to come around to, an album’s worth of time to be precise. The difference this time is I’m not pinning all my hope on this being the single answer to all my problems, I have learned from my previous mistakes. The curse of St. Munchin is no longer an excuse that will be in the back of my head. The place I have come from will not be a hindrance on where I go from here and if you listen to ‘Everybody’s Welcome’ when it comes out on September 14th, maybe you might take that from it as well.
All the best,
‘Everybody’s Welcome’ by Anna’s Anchor is released on 14th September on Failure By Design Records.