I Draw Slow
Dublin roots band I Draw Slow has been drumming up enthusiastic reviews in Ireland since the release of their top 10 selling second album, Redhills. Irish national broadcaster RTE made Redhills album of the week and Redhills has been welcomed to the playlists of stations across the country. However, their impact abroad is redrawing the map for these Irish/Americana songwriters.
They have been described in the UK press as “American top league equivalents” destined “to blow the opposition away”, drawing favourable comparisons with Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss. The band has played to audiences in the UK, Germany, Denmark, and Belgium and started 2012 with a performance with the legendary Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and an appearance at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Scotland.
I Draw Slow is a five-piece outfit comprising vocals, guitar, fiddle, banjo, and double bass. Holden siblings Dave (guitar) and Louise (vocals) have been writing together for two decades. In 2008 the pair teamed up with violinist Adrian Hart, clawhammer banjo player Colin Derham, and double bassist Konrad Liddy to form I Draw Slow.
The Sound: Alt-country, folk, roots, old-time, Americana. The five have created a new sound, rooted in the old time style of the Appalachian Mountains, drawing on Irish traditional music, and modern Americana. However, this is a whole new songbook of stories and melodies. These are dark tales of debauchery and trouble swinging from the kind of well-crafted melodies that survive.
“Valentine” with Aiden Gillen, Directed by Hugh O’Conor (2014)
“Low Down Girl Like Me” recorded live in the Pickathon Festival Pumphouse by Live & Breathing (2013)
“Mama Don’t Cry” recorded live in the Pickathon Festival Pumphouse by Live & Breathing (2013)
“Goldmine” recorded live in the Pickathon Festival Pumphouse by Live & Breathing (2013)
“Bread and Butter” Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival Video (July 2013)
“Springtime” Media Factory Video from “The Living Room” New York, NY (January 2013)
“Goldmine” Official Video from the album Redhills (Released 2011)
“Mama Don’t Cry” Live from “The Living Room” New York, NY (January 2013)
“Honeymoon” Live from “The Living Room” New York, NY (January 2013)
I Draw Slow performer highlight at IBMA World of Bluegrass (September, 2012)
“Cry Help” Live at Communion Dublin in Academy 2 (2011)
Though there have been some comparisons made between I Draw Slow and Gillian Welsh or Allison Krause, the band’s signature sound is a bit harder to pinpoint – it’s described as a combination of alt-country, folk, roots, old-time and American – but that hasn’t hampered the public’s opinion. That response is evident by the band’s increasing album sales. Their first American release from Pinecastle Records, Redhills, is climbing the charts and has recently broken into the top 25 on Amazon’s Bluegrass best seller list. - Dawn Nolan, Folk Weekly (August, 2013)
Folk Alley’s Best of 2012, Album of the Year — I Draw Slow – Redhills - Kind of bizarre name, but this group doesn’t need to do make anything up to draw attention to them. Most obviously defined as an old time string band, I Draw Slow is all acoustic, 5 pieces, but unlike most string bands most of the songs are original. Lead by siblings Dave (guitar) and Louise (voice) Holden, this album is engaging, beautiful, and consistent from start to finish. Believe it or not, though they sound like they’re from North Carolina, they are from Ireland. - Jim Blum, Folk Alley
The Irish band I Draw Slow has been getting a lot of buzz lately. Their new album Redhills, on the resurrected Pinecastle label, showcases the group’s blend of bluegrass, Celtic and old-time music. The group is made up of Louise Holden, Dave Holden, Adrian Hart, Konrad Liddy, and Colin Derham. Louise and Dave Holden write all but two of the songs on the album, with the other two cuts being traditional fare. Because of that, there is a singer-songwriter aspect to this project and the good news is that the songs and storytelling are of high quality, the arrangements are solid and the group as a whole is very talented.
Now, this is not the fast-paced, hard-driving traditional bluegrass of Bill Monroe. But at the same time, the more I listen to Redhills, the more it reminds me of what Monroe called the “ancient tones,” the Celtic roots of bluegrass music. And that is why this album fits into the extended bluegrass genre as it represents the “roots” side of the “roots and branches” equation.
The highlights include the two opening cuts “Mama Don’t Cry” and “Goldmine” (which feature fine vocals floating over a bed of banjo and fiddle), the “Hesitation Waltz,” and an atmospheric take on the ominous-sounding traditional “Kingdom.” Most of the songs on the album go along at an easygoing pace, but the group finally kicks it into high gear with “Low Down Girl Like Me.” The ancient tones made their way across the Appalachian Mountains long before bluegrass was invented, and the musicians of a century or two ago would appreciate the music on Redhills. -Bluegrass Unlimited
We are proud of our history at SkunkFest of surprising our crowd with a relatively unknown group that becomes one of their favorites. Bands in this category in the past include The Avett Brothers and Trampled by Turtles. This year, I Draw Slow joined that group. They are very talented and engaging, our crowd loved them. They were a big hit and we definitely want them back. -Glynn Zeigler, Albino Skunk Festival
Redhills is an album anyone should enjoy. The more you listen, the more you not only like the music, the narratives of the songs and the profusion of moods they convey, the more you might be drawn into I Draw Slow’s unique gorgeous world. -Lonesome Highway Review, August 2011
It comes as something of a shock to discover that five piece I Draw Slow are Irish, as they have that contemporary roots/Americana sound down to a tee. Their big weapon is Louise Holden, whose voice is effortlessly pure and shivery, rather like a feistier Alison Krauss. She and her brother, who plays guitar, have been writing songs together for nigh on twenty years, and it shows, as they have great tunes and beautifully constructed songs. There’s a definite bluegrass base to their music but it’s laidback rather than frenetic, and while the band deploy the expected banjo, fiddle and the like they differ from many of their contemporaries by not striving to recreate the sound of half a century ago. Instead making the music sound contemporary. There’s also a real sense of them playing for the sheer pleasure of it. -Americana UK
While the music is wonderful it’s the vocals of Louise Holden along with the songs often heartfelt vocals which elevate the band and album to heights other bands rarely get near. I love the deep lyrics of songs like the already mentioned “Goodbye Beulahland” where Louise sings about “… coming back to the heart of everything that is wrong in this world ….” and the sublime haunting lyrics of “Cry Help”. - 2 U I Bestow, September 2011
The Irish based five-piece outfit I Draw Slow are no newcomer to Folk Radio UK. We were first introduced to them when they sent us a demo a few of years ago. They were great then but their latest release Redhills raises the stakes of their musicianship to the roof! Their rich blend of Appalachian / Irish / Americana / Roots is back with a truly well-honed edge.- Folk Radio UK, June 2011
As befitting their name, Irish string band I Draw Slow have taken their time before releasing their second album. Their debut, Downside, a winning combination of novel narrative touches and Appalachian and Irish music influences, set the bar high. Songs such as “Kingdom” and “Goodbye Beulaland” sound darker, more complex and more musically ambitious while firmly remaining in the Americana genre. – The Irish Times
There’s a touching somberness to “Goodbye Beulahland” and “Cry Help”. Even when they take on traditional works like “Buffalo Hunt” they make them completely their own. Most impressively of all, they work their wonders without sounding like they tumbled off the Nashville/Appalachian conveyor belt. I Draw Slow play and sing with a real sense of joy, never letting the virtuosity get in the way of delivering delicious performances. - Jackie Hayden, Hotpress Review May, 2011