Maria Kelly Reckons with Self-Doubt and Struggle on New Single “eight hours”

By Clare Martin

We’re often our own worst enemies. Even when we try to reach out for help, something holds us back, telling us that whatever trouble we’re experiencing isn’t that difficult and that, in some fucked up way, we’re not worthy of the pain we’re feeling. 

Maria Kelly’s latest single, “eight hours,” touches on this strangled, stymied feeling with her signature humour and grace. 

Speaking on the song’s subject, Kelly says, “You convince yourself that it’s just one single thing, and that if you could just find it, fix it, get over it – everything would be ok again. Ironically, through that process of invalidating, there’s so much pressure, guilt and shame, which just sends us further into that spiral.

“eight hours” single art

“It’s a cycle I think a lot of us fall into, because it’s really hard to give yourself permission to struggle. I spent a really long time fighting against my own experience. Feeling down or lost always equated to ‘not trying hard enough’. I was always on the hunt for something to fix, but I’m constantly reminding myself that nothing is inherently ‘broken’ – so there is nothing to fix in the first place.” 

The track, out today via VETA Music, floats on plucky, playful guitar. Kelly’s honeyed voice is warm as a fresh cup of tea as she gently insists: “I swear I try, I do / I do, I do, I do.” “eight hours” is another thoughtful instalment ahead of the alt-folk artist’s debut album, which is due out in autumn of this year. She crafted the record while holed up in a cottage on our island’s southern coast.

Listen to “eight hours” below.

Maria Kelly Explores Liminal Spaces on New Single “Martha”

By Clare Martin

“It might be the end of the world but, like, it’s fine.” 

This voice note from Maria Kelly’s friend Martha starts off the artist’s new single, named for her mate. Martha sent the message to Kelly when the pandemic began, and for such a simple line, it feels like the most realistic depiction of the past year for a large swath of Irish people. We’re teetering on the precipice of this horror, but that eternal “be grand” attitude is the only defence we have left. 

When the first lockdown started, Kelly had just moved back to Ireland after living in Berlin for a couple years. The singer/songwriter stole away to a cottage on the southern coast to write and record her debut album. She found herself caught not just in the liminal space we’ve all been navigating since coronavirus, but also that strange place when you’re out of your early 20s but not as grown up as you’d imagined. 

“I wrote the song just after I returned from Berlin and was taking stock of just how much had changed in my life throughout my early 20s,” Kelly explains. “Here I was, having just had this really formative experience, disillusioned and directionless again. Not only that, but I was no longer the version of myself that had left Ireland – and not quite who I wanted to be yet either – just stuck in this floaty, in-between with a version of myself that I wasn’t quite used to yet.”

Single art for “Martha”

She continues, “The voicenote Martha sent me felt like the perfect addition to the song, and it also gave me a chance to laugh at the fact that we have very little control over things we try so hard to control. This past year has felt like one big ‘in-between’ that we’re all trying to muddle our way through, so ‘Martha’ is about dealing with change and all that comes with it; regret, nostalgia, uncertainty, fear – but also acceptance and lightheartedness.” 

Throughout “Martha,” Kelly recounts what it’s like to be torn between two places, both physically and emotionally. “I wonder what I’m missing / I wonder what could have been,” she sings, and later muses over acoustic guitar, “Can’t swim / can’t drown / I’m not where I thought I’d be now.” Her piercing lyrics and gossamer vocals elevate the single beyond your average alt-folk release. Kelly’s voice possesses an intimacy and emotional intelligence that could break your heart. 

Listen to “Martha,” produced remotely by Matt Harris and released by VETA Music, below.