MATTHEW Ward may be enjoying the sun-kissed lifestyle in Spain, but his musical roots remain firmly at home in Ireland.
The 31-year-old from between Omagh and Gortin has just recorded and launched his first solo recording entitled ‘The Lighthouse EP’.
The record is made up of five songs rooted in the folk music of Ireland with influences also from North American bluegrass and country music.
Matthew has been living in A Coruña, Galicia on the North-west coast of Spain for the past number of years.
Hailing from a musical family, he has been playing traditional Irish music since the age of eight.
Matthew still carries this music in his blood and is a member of the Galicia-based folk group Böj, who won first prize at the prestigious International Folk Festival in Ortigueira, Spain, in 2016.
Speaking this week from Spain, Matthew said, “I was born into a family of musicians.
“Joe Ward was my grandfather, a bones, bodhrán and fiddle player, my father Brian Ward is a guitarist, singer and banjo player… and currently the driving force behind a popular Irish ceili band, ‘The Long Note’.
“Thanks to both of them I was given my formative lessons on the accordion and above all a strong love for all types of music, especially traditional Irish music.
“Then, under the guidance of the supremely talented multi-instrumentalist Declan McKeever at the CBS, I was given me my first opportunities to perform on stage with various traditional Irish music groups.
“During my teens I was offered the chance to join the Emerald Ceili Band and I toured around Ireland playing at different traditional music festivals.”
A year spent in Spain as an Erasmus student would take Matthew on a different musical path as it ignited a love of Spanish music and culture.
He had no hesitation in returning to live in Spain shortly after graduating.
Playing in numerous Celtic and Spanish groups, Matthew has also been active as a solo artist in the past few years and recently recorded the ‘Lighthouse EP.’
He said, “In spite of my rather traditional Irish roots, I have become very fond of blues, bluegrass, country, roots, Americana and other folk music in recent years.
“My songs are a mixture of ideas and feelings that I’ve had since leaving home in 2010.
“Many experiences have come and gone in the intervening years and they have shaped this record. From the first track ‘Doorstep’, which speaks about my yearning for my homeplace out beside the Gortin Glens, to the title track ‘Lighthouse’, which is dedicated to my partner Érica, all of the songs have at least a little bit of me in them.
“The final track is a traditional English folk song called ‘Spencer the Rover’ with my own original arrangement. All others are my own compositions.”
Matthew launched the EP a couple of weeks ago in Spain and says he is “very happy with the positive response it has received so far.”
He plans to return to Ireland in the coming months to launch the EP here and will be confirming dates in the near future.
However, the EP can be streamed and downloaded at matthewward.bandcamp.com. You can also order a hard copy of Matthew’s album at the same website. The price per hard copy is €6 plus postage.