‘It was fun to revisit my more upbeat self’

The talented Bap Kennedy
The talented Bap Kennedy

Bap Kennedy tells JOANNE SAVAGE about the joie de vivre in new album Let’s Start Again

“This album is more upbeat - I decided to have some fun,” says Belfast singer/songwriter Bap Kennedy, 51, of his new album Let’s Start Again, the lead track on which, Revelation Blues, is perhaps punchier and rockier than his usual style.

The new collection was made with producer Mudd Wallace who Bap – famous, among many other achievements, for having his song Moonlight Kiss played in Hollywood movie Serendipity starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack – worked with in his earliest days when he considered his sound more “power-punk” than folk melody with a moody, bluesy twist.

“It was fun to revisit my more upbeat self,” laughs Bap, who last collaborated with Mudd in the 1980s.

“And I want that sense of liveliness and energy to come out right across the album; it is definitely set to a more optimistic, zesty mood than some of my other work.

“Generally, I am quite introspective and the melody is maybe usually more plaintive.”

Kennedy has worked and sung with people like Van Morrison and Mark Knopfler.

“That was huge validation because starting out as a singer/songwriter you have so much anxiety about whether or not people will respond to your material.

“I mean Van is obviously huge, and to get approval from him is pretty epic.

“These days I am so happy doing what I am doing as a working musician.”

Is it still an amazing feeling walking out there on stage to the microphone and the applause and the atmosphere of anticipation?

“Well, this album has definitely gone some way towards rekindling my joy of performing, plus the fact that my wife has joined my band and now plays the bass. That has helped inject excitement into the whole business of performance again because like anything, over the years, doing the same thing, it can become routine and formulaic and lose a bit of the charge it had at first.

“I mean you do go through phrases where you feel on automatic pilot and maybe feeling that you’re stagnating. But then when inspiration strikes again you understand why you so wanted to be a performer in the first place. When it’s going well there’s just nothing like it.

“Being a musician is as good as it seems a lot of the time, and I do love it.”

Bap describes his musical inspirations as incredibly broad, running the whole gamut from hillbilly music to classical. “But the songwriters I really respect and admire would be Hank Williams, Steve Earle and Van Morrison.”

It seems songwriting is in Bap Kennedy’s blood, musicianship in his very nature. And long may it continue.

Bap Kennedy’s new album Let’s Start Again is released by Proper Records on February 3. Bap then plays Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart, March 6; Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, March 9; and the Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen, March 28.