One To Watch – Conor Dardis – “He sings about railway stations, butcher shops and cups of tea”.

Conor Dardis looking out of the window.
Conor Dardis

“Immigrant Suburban Folk” is how Preston native and Dublin ex-pat Conor Dardis describes his music.

His songs are set in the working-class suburban Dublin of his formative years. This is not the Dublin of Guinness Brewery tours, shopping trips down Grafton Street or stag dos in Temple Bar. This is the Dublin of the outer estates, specifically Clondalkin, the Dublin suburb where Conor hails from and where the Dublin seen through the eyes of tourists is a million miles away from the daily realities of Clondalkin’s residents.

Conor’s songs depict everyday local characters as they negotiate life’s various pressures and challenges.

His bio says that he does not mind comparisons with Billy Bragg, Michael Head, Bruce Springsteen and their many disciples.  “Early Springsteen is really where it’s at for me” says Conor. “But I guess I’m reframing what he did to a Dublin experience”. That’s quite a bold statement for a new, unsigned artist but listening to Conor’s songs there is a distinct ‘Nebraska’-era Springsteen vibe so maybe it’s not that audacious a claim. Listen to new song ‘Accelerator’ or ‘Mickey Was a Soldier’ to see what I mean. The latter is the tale of a young man gone off the rails who ultimately pays with his life.

Like Springsteen, Conor tells stories of the everyday, making the ordinary sound extraordinary, where drunks, criminals and normal folk collide in an imagined world that is informed by the real one.

Conor’s stories and themes could be pulled from the pages of an evening newspaper. He sings about railway stations, butcher shops and endless cups of tea.

His songs lack sentimentality and instead, they capture those small neighbourhood details that typically slip through the cracks. Although ‘The Ballad of the Butcher’s Wife’ is the obvious ‘hit’ I think ‘Getting Worn Away’ is  the standout; a beautiful, heartbreaking song of a daughter’s relationship with her father and his relationship with drink. It absolutely captures the turmoil and despair of watching someone you love slowly self-destruct.

Tales of love, loss, despair and bad choices never go out of style and especially when the style is as enjoyable as this. I’m sure it won’t be long before Conor Dardis finds a label that can help him get his music out to a wider audience, but in the meantime you can check out his stuff on Soundcloud and follow him on Twitter.