Press and Reviews
Internationally acclaimed Irish songwriter Don Mescall has found his light
Perhaps not yet a household name here in the states, Don Mescall is, in his own right, a very successful singer, songwriter and producer. Internationally acclaimed, his discography features cuts by artists from one end of the spectrum to the other; from Rascal Flatts and Lonestar to the Backstreet Boys and Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls, all the way to Richie Havens, he’s had songs recorded by great artists from every genre.
As many songwriters do, Mescall has spent much of his career writing songs for others, despite having his own incredible vocal gift. He’s always been comfortable as a songwriter, but when you hear this man sing, you will find yourself moved with every single note as you accompany him on the incredible journey that brought him to his new album “Lighthouse Keeper.”
Mescall initially made an impression in the U.S. when he was signed to Curb Records and released his debut album, “Innocent Run,” in 2006. With his second album release (more than a decade later), Mescall wanted to make a record that related to where he was in his own life, so he chose some of his favorite co-writers and artists and asked them for their input, all of which agreed. Thus “Lighthouse Keeper” was created and came to life with the help of his friends and collaborators including Mike Reid, Will Robinson and Steve McEwan, with Mescall co-producing the project with Tommy Harden. Reid encouraged him to make the record, telling him, “You need to do it for your soul. Sometimes it’s just what you need to do.” Mescall took it to heart.
Though now residing in London, Mescall launched the album in his hometown of Limerick, Ireland. Wonderfully, the concert halls sold out and the album went to No. 1 on the Irish Independent Charts, giving Mescall the message that the timing had indeed been right for him to make the record. As he relates: “Sometimes things just come full-circle. There are magic moments in the creation of a song but sometimes you miss out on the performing of it when you’re a songwriter. When I did have the opportunity to go out and play some live shows I realized how much I had been missing performing.
Stella Parton also performs on the record’s first single, “You Don’t Have To Love Me Right Now,” a song that also has been very successful in Ireland’s charts. Mescall has obviously worked hard in his songwriting career over the years, and that creative professionalism shines through in this album. As he states, “A songwriter never rests on their laurels, but with a record you spend a lot of time on it and in this case I co-produced it. So I’m happy that it’s finished and that the people who hear it are liking it. I’m proud of it.”
Blessed to have his own recording studio in Greenwich, London, where he spends many hours writing and recording music, Mescall jokingly adds: “I’m useless in every other way. But I can write songs and produce them. And when people seem to like them it makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing.”
On his most recent trip to Nashville, Mescall enjoyed writing with Brett James, Robinson, Reid, Paul Overstreet and others, no doubt creating future hits you will soon hear on the radio. He will always continue writing and creating for other artists. Mescall relates: “I don’t approach it as ‘this could be good for a particular artist,’ I approach it with the point of view of trying to stay in the moment with the song. Sometimes they make the journey and sometimes they don’t. For me, as I’ve gotten older, the world we live in now we are pushed and pulled and there are so many things we need to do. But with songwriting, when you’re in the creative process, you’re totally in the moment. That to me is the biggest part of it. If the song gets on a record, that’s great, but the magic was in the moment of creation…because you think ‘wow – where did that come from?’”
Take for instance, that inspiration for the title track, “Lighthouse Keeper.” Mescall had visited Ireland with his daughter when she was only 7 or 8 years old. They’d visited a lighthouse in County Cork, and had taken lots of pictures. While on tour later, he found himself in a New York hotel room reminiscing and viewing the photos they’d taken at the lighthouse, inspiring him to write the song with friend Steve McEwan. Having lost his dad when he was only 10 years old, Mescall relates: “As a boy, you follow in your dad’s footsteps, but I felt I’d lost direction after my dad died. So I’m in New York and I’m looking at these photographs of my daughter, and that was the first time it hit me that I was about the age my daughter was then, when he died. So I had this moment when I realized I didn’t want my daughter to ever feel the way I felt when I lost my dad. That’s where the inspiration came from, that I want to be there no matter what, for my daughter and let her know that I will always be there for her. That’s why I wrote it, that’s what I wanted to be for her – her lighthouse keeper.”
Mescall continues: “A lot of songs on the record are about where I’m at in my life. The last song – co-written with my friend Mike Reid – came about because we were thinking ‘when you come to the end of your life, what will be the important things that you reflect on? The love you gave, the love you felt, t’s not the trivial day-to-day problems. So, let love be the last song that you sing.’”
Other songs that appear on the album include “Stormy Weather Friend,” a song Mescall co-wrote with acclaimed songwriter Lori McKenna, based on his true-life struggle with depression and his journey through it, a song that also features his friend, Sharon Corr from the Corrs. Another is “Sunday Drive,” a song reminiscent of Mescall’s own childhood and his desire to remember how close he was with his family when each Sunday after church the family would all get in the car – all 11 siblings, mom and dad – and go for a drive.
In closing, Mescall says he has one main mission. “ I want people to really understand how music feels. Songwriting is a form of communication – and a lyric and a melody can really touch someone. To me, that’s what music is.”
Renowned hitmaker steps into the limelight.
Don Mescall’s musical creations have adorned recordings by Aslan, Cliff Richard, Nathan Carter, Sharon Corr, The Backstreet Boys and many more. Along the way, his tunes have clocked up a staggering 16 million YouTube views. So on Lighthouse Keeper – only his second album, which arrives fully 12 years after his debut – he’s joined by a selection of stars keen to return the creative favours.
As a result, the knock-out pop treats come think and fast. Ringing guitars kickstart the brass-tinged single ‘Love Me Right Now’, which finds Mescall in the company of Stella Parton. Slow-burning ballad ‘Not Too Ordinary Day’ features Paul Brady, while ‘All Alone’ finds Mescall going to tonsil-to-tonsil with Christy Dignam, on a track dripping with emotion. It’s not every solo singer who can make a duet work with either gender, but ‘The Last Song’ with Maura O’Connell is a real gem, with the latter’s vocals brimful of spirit and warmth.
Elsewhere, Irish country music’s poster boy Nathan Carter acquits himself well on ‘Sunday Drive’; the acoustic ‘Stormy Weather Friend’ features the Don in tandem with Sharon Corr’s plaintive fiddle; and Lisa McHugh plays a blinder on ‘Missing Pieces’. He might not rival Tom Waits in the lyrics department, but that’s not the objective. As Lighthouse Keeper confirms in no uncertain terms, Don Mescall straddles the divide between pop and country music with impressive finesse. There could be lots of hits therein. By: Jackie Hayden
Kilkenny People Newspaper Review
Let me start by saying that while I'm a fan of music, it's rare that a performance moves me to tears.
However on Friday night at Cleere's my eyes welled up no fewer than three times as Don Mescall strummed his guitar.
I wasn't in an overly emotional mood it has to be said, I was tired from a long day's work but really looking forward to the session, my first time to see Mescall perform in a gig setting.
I knew I loved his music, but there's something about a live performance, especially one of his, which brings you to another level. Completely engrossed in each song, a story accompanied each while the emotion of each track was etched across his face. That's a lot of emotion, considering there was just his one sole "happy song" in the set!
As the weather raged outside pelting passerbys and walls of cold kept many at home, a "small but perfectly formed" audience sat in appreciation in the hallowed back room of one of the most musically respected venues.
Songs inspired by Mescall's daughter Eve and old family Sunday drives were moving, but particularly special was the showcasing of Niagra, a new number written and performed with the legendary Mick Hanly. The latter stayed up on stage for a rendition of Broken Halo with it's tale of a school mate who left the hardship of school behind and went on to win the Lotto. It's a beautiful track and one to be called for at his next gig.
The only disappointment on the night was the aforementioned attendance. While the group was hugely appreciative and sung their hearts out when asked, the gig was the latest musical experience to be affected by low turnout. Such a pity given the excellence provided from a man who excels across the world and who's written with and for the likes of The Backstreet Boys, American Idol winner Clay Aiken, multi platinum artist Ronan Keating among others.
It's been three years since he performed here. Here's hoping the bad attendance won't put him off future gigs in the Marble City.
What the Media Say
"Daily doses of Don Mescall as artist, as writer, or both will lead to good musical health"
- Paul Gambaccini, BBC Radio 2
"His music may be influenced by Tom Waits, Stephen Stills and Joni Mitchell but ultimately it reflects the poetic side of his soul"
- Time Out
"Don Mescall is a genius. His songs have the ability to touch you on the deepest of levels."
- Ralph McLean, BBC Northern Ireland
"Another blistering performance!"
- Janice Long, BBC Radio 2
"Only a matter of time until he becomes a global star"
- The Irish World
"Mescall captures his audience like a young Paul Simon"
- Austin Chronicle
"Mescall's voice recalls something of David Gray, but with a rare depth and character that Gray lacks"
- The Irish World
"There's a certain effortless poignancy to Don's material that suggests Glastonbury could be just the first of many famous stop-offs"
"Don Mescall writes bittersweet love songs and ballads of youth with a sensitiviity that cannot be synthesised"
- The Irish Post
"There is something unavoidably poetic and beautiful about Mescall's lyricism"
- (5 stars) Irish World News
"Don has that rare quality, honesty. His live performances capture his audiences from the off and keep them spellbound to the very final note. A writer without equal, Don richly deserves his place in the industry."
- Roddie Cleere, WLRfm
"There's a little bit of all our lives in the lyrics of Don Mescall. Don's star continues to rise."
- Roddie Cleere - WLRfm
"The songs on his EP, Fuel for the Fire, are right up there with Don's finest work ... you feel he's lived every single line himself. When Clouds Get In The Way is masterful"
- Ralph McLean - BBC Northern Ireland
"Don Mescall is Ireland's best songwriter by a mile. His songs are akin to three minute movies, with characters, plot, drama and emotion. It is a mystery why he hasn't had huge international recognition before now."
- Shay Healy - author, songwriter, producer - May 2009
Reviews of new tour
Hi to the DM team,
I was down in Brazils on the 11th with two friends of mine. We travelled down from Thurles. It was fantastic to see Don live again, have seen him now 3 times now and can not wait for the new album to come out in January and the next tour! :o)
On a serious note, Dons music/songs have always striked a very strong note with me, I love the way the words of his songs put pics into the mind and take u back down memory lanes that we sometimes refuse to revisit and which heal unknown to us.
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us".
Thank you Don for all the songs, your gifted!!!
C ya in January or there after!
This might well be Don Mescall's only gig in the North of Ireland on his November 09 tour - but he made sure it was one his audience would not forget. Mescall performed a carefully chosen mix of songs previously recorded and added a taste of things to come from his yet to be released album.
Opening the gig with songs inspired from his early experiences of starting out as a musician in New York, including the haunting "New York City's Not My Home", Mescall set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Introducing his songs he shared with the attentive audience from where he had drawn his inspirations and at what point he was in his life when he wrote the songs. This not only brought the songs to life, it also made the gig a much more personal experience than I'm sure most had anticipated.
As the evening progressed, more gems unfolded and were performed with ease, such as "Last Chance", "Paradise", "Magdalen Laundry", and "I Don't Believe". Continuing with that same ease he performed what he himself described as some "happy songs" such as "Roof Of The World" and the very successful "All Over Again". The audience participation songs such as "Closer" and "The More I See The Less I Understand" added to what was becoming a unique live experience for all present.
Whilst this is a solo tour and Mescall should have been out of his comfort zone, this certainly was not the case as he delivered his songs with a quiet confidence, but more importantly with an overwhelming honesty and genuine emotion. An accomplished guitar accompaniment proved this gent can capture an audience single-handedly.
As the gig was coming to a close there was a distinct feeling that we had travelled together on a journey through the colourful life of the still young Mescall - which exudes hope of many more wonderful songs yet to be written.
At any point throughout the gig, you could have heard a pin drop, thus giving Mescall the respect his songs deserve. It is not a wonder that his songs have been covered by artists such as Ronan Keating, Rascal Flatts, Backstreet Boys, Brian Kennedy and Frances Black, as this songwriter is proving his worth with beautifully crafted melodies and lyrics of pure honesty. Ireland has produced many great songwriters - and last night Portstewart evidenced yet another one.
Don Mescall's new album is to be released in March 2010.