Daniel O’Donnell's Irish eyes still smiling on Eastbourne

Daniel O'DonnellDaniel O'Donnell
Daniel O'Donnell
Daniel O’Donnell, whose recording career now spans 35 years, is still eyeing up a date at Eastbourne’s Congress Theatre on Friday, October 1 – if all the restrictions allow the gig to go ahead.

In the meantime, last autumn he released a brand-new studio album Daniel on the DMGTV label in the hope of happier times for all performers before too long.

“With lockdown, you just had to wait and hope and knuckle down,” Daniel says. “We are very lucky that we live in the country, and we are very open.

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“We have a garden around the house and lots of walks, so even in the strictest part of the lockdown we didn’t feel hemmed in even though we couldn’t do many of the things we normally do.

“I felt more fortunate than a lot of people, but we should already have been to New Zealand and Australia by now and we should be putting on shows in Ireland.

“But you just have to accept it. It is just the way it is. We have just got to hope that it is going to pass.

“We have not scheduled any live concerts until next August now.

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“We had pushed Australia back until February and March, but that has now been pushed back to the year after.

“A lot of work had gone into it, but I suppose it is my manager who has the bigger headache than me!

“But it is the musicians, the younger performers, the people just starting out in the business that I really feel for, and also the people who work behind the scenes, the sound people, the lighting people, the musicians.

“There is a huge number of people that are involved and sadly I do think our industry is going to be the last to recover.

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“Social isolation or social distancing in the theatre just doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t add up. You can’t make any money that way. You can’t survive.

“But I am fortunate that I am in a good position in my own career. I have had nearly 40 years in my career, and I can afford to choose what I do a bit more, but I feel for the younger people in the business and for those with young families.”

The new album, recorded in 2019, is available on CD and vinyl LP as well as to down-load/stream. The album, titled simply Daniel, features 13 tracks of new recordings produced by Nigel Wright, and Daniel will be hoping it keeps up his proud tradition.

Daniel broke his own world record in 2019 by becoming the first recording artist to chart at least one new album each year in the artist albums’ chart for 32 consecutive years.

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As for the title: “I don’t know why it is just Daniel. The record company decides the title, and they usually take it from one of the songs.

“I don’t think I have ever picked an album title. But this one hasn’t got a particular theme.

“There is no thread running through it.”

Among the highlights are Memories Are Made Of This made famous by Dean Martin; Daniel’s version of Ed Sheeran’s Perfect; Forever Young written by American folk legend Pete Seeger and recorded previously by Bob Dylan and 2015 X Factor winner Louise Johnson; Love Can Build A Bridge which was originally released by The Judds and covered Cher, Chrissie Hynde, Neneh Cherry with Eric Clapton; Come What May, the anthemic 1972 Eurovision Song Contest winner; Magic Moments, a huge hit for Perry Como; Dance The Night Away; Take Good Care Of My Baby by Bobby Vee; Our Special Absent Friends; Try To Remember; Smile; and Leaving On A Jet Plane, written by John Denver and which was a huge hit for American group Peter, Paul and Mary.

“I am really happy with the songs. I am really lucky, I suppose.

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“Even though the songs are suggested to me by the record company, if I don’t really feel comfortable with any of them, then I can just say no. But I think this is a lovely collection of songs.”

And while it comes as a boost now, as we are still navigating the pandemic, its release was set a long time ago.

“But I do hope it helps people connect with the music, people perhaps who had gigs booked and were looking forward to them.”