“Today’s #DeskOfTheDay gives ‘one-man-band’ a whole new meaning. Watch “I Prefer My Phone,” a 2021 Tiny Desk Contest entry from @CuchulainK” – NPR Music, June 23, 2021
FOR RELEASE SEPTEMBER 17, 2021
EUGENE, Oregon (September 8, 2021) – Cuchulain releases the genre-bending single, “Don’t Come Easy.” feat. Handsome Hound on September 17. This is the second single off FEAT, his album of long-distance pandemic collaborations due out Nov 5. This one started as a dialogue with himself – “relax, don’t overthink it / well baby, it don’t come easy for me.” But as this song took shape in June 2020 amidst the BLM protests over George Floyd’s murder, the second verse took on a different meaning. All sounds were recorded in home studios (trumpet on an iPhone) in Oregon, Texas, DC, & California. Cuchulain’s wife on background vocals and the trumpeter were in Handsome Hound with him. The result is a joyful orchestra of sounds laying the bedrock for Cuchulain’s soothing, yet upbeat melody.
Cuchulain sat down to write a song about the pandemic but then scrapped it entirely while keeping his favorite line: “baby it don’t come easy for me.” He forgot about the line for several months until he discovered the syncopated acoustic guitar strumming pattern on the track. The groove on that guitar line became the backbone of the song. Cuchulain says, “I once read Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy say in an interview that sometimes you need to write lyrics that don’t get in the way of a good song. I tried to do that here. Less of a focus on a story and more of a focus on the feel, the groove, the pulse.”
“Don’t Come Easy” came together while the George Floyd protests for Black Lives Matter were happening. During a two-week period, Cuchulain went to a protest nearly every day, with attendees wearing masks and staying socially distant. The second verse emerged from this period: “be quiet, don’t be obscene; behave, don’t make a scene / well baby, it don’t come easy for me.” Cuchulain says, “It felt like many people were telling the Black Lives Matter protesters that they were doing it wrong, that they were protesting the wrong way, and that they needed to sit down, shut up, and behave. For many folks upset about the way Black folks are being treated in this country, that doesn’t come easy for us.”
Cuchulain sent his acoustic guitar and vocals to his friend Ethan Schneider, a drummer based in Austin, TX who laid down the drum part on his first try, recording in his back room. Cuchulain added shaker and bass, and then wrote the horn parts and asked Allison Rosenberg (DC) and Julianna Baratta (Redwood City, CA) to record. Rosenberg sent voice memos from her phone. Shawn Barry added clarinet flourishes. Motenko (Austin, TX) added keys to tie the whole thing together. This song features Handsome Hound because Cuchulain’s wife Claire added background vocals and helped him pair the song down from a six-minute behemoth to the three and a half minutes it is now. Handsome Hound is Cuchulain and Claire’s collaborative musical project this song wouldn’t be where it is without her.
For the Eugene-based singer-songwriter and born extrovert, his way of coping with confinement was to reach out and collaborate virtually with other musicians. Each song on this album is a collaboration – Cuchulain wrote all music and lyrics, and then sent the demos to talented friends. Each track features a guest artist, and over twenty musicians around the United States and world contributed parts to the arrangements. Recorded in home studios of all levels of professionalism – some of this song’s horn parts were captured by smartphone – from LA to Austin, Seattle to Chicago, SF to DC, Philly to Hungary, this album is meant to be a source of light in the dark, a gathering of a community, a tiny example of the show going on. In short, a feat.
FEAT Track Listing
- Good Morning Eugene feat. Jenner Fox
- Don’t Come Easy feat. Handsome Hound
- Come On Through feat. R.O. Shapiro
- Blue November feat. Shawn Barry
- Iris feat. Katie Kuffel
- Maybe (I Don’t Feel (The Same Way (As You))) feat. Joe Kye
- Wolf At The Door feat. Ice Giants
- With A Little Help From My Friends feat. Matt Jaffe
Cuchulain — a low-voiced songsmith with a wry sense of humor – has a big name to fill. Cuchulain (pronounced “ka-hoo-lin”) was named (yes, by his parents) after the famous Irish mythological hero. And like his mythological namesake, Cuchulain has journeyed far and wide, finding himself and his songs shaped by each place he stops. He has honed his genre-bending version of folk music by incorporating the sounds of his many hometowns. His single “I Prefer My Phone” drew the attention of NPR Music, who said his Tiny Desk Contest performance “gave ‘one-man-band’ a whole new meaning,” referencing his performance of all instruments (guitar, bass, piano, and drums) in the video.
Portland, OR – Laurelthirst Pub – Fri Oct 15
Seattle WA – Conor Byrne Pub – Sat Oct 16
Spokane WA – Lucky You Lounge – Fri Oct 22
Enterprise OR – Terminal Gravity – Sat Oct 23
Missoula MT – house show – Sun Oct 24
Polsen MT – house show – Thu Oct 21
Eugene OR – WOW Hall – Album release show – Fri Nov 5
Portland OR – White Eagle – Sat Dec 4
Praise For Cuchulain
“The cross country (and Atlantic) project therefore not only helped break the isolation of lockdown, but also reinforced the mutual relationship between creativity and human connection… What emerges is a track warm if somewhat wistful, the playful energy undercut by a lingering sadness. An awareness of time passing.” – Jon Doyle, Various Small Flames
“Charming and poignant americana.” – Glide Magazine
“The words transcended while encompassing a personal moment.” – Matt Denis, Eugene Register Guard
“There’s a Leonard Cohen cadence and observational wit at play, filtered through Cuchulain‘s voice that recalls Evan Dando of The Lemonheads. It’s a clever and lyrically impressive track that rolls along perfectly like a Randy Newman lost gem.” – Post To Wire
“He has one of the richest voices we’ve ever heard and his vocal performance in this song is incredibly catchy! The production of this song is beautiful and there is a great level of songwriting that shines up through this record.” – Cheers to the Vikings