West Cork musician Polly Barrett reflects on motherhood in her new album out next month.

Polly has a cracker of a record!

For West Cork singer-songwriter Polly Barrett, it took the birth of her son and her subsequent rebirth as an artist to find her authentic truth.

Recorded in her home in West Cork, Barrett’s upcoming album ‘Sapling be…’ is fully dedicated to her son who came up with name himself as he strummed the guitar as a toddler.

Set to be released on 6 October, Barrett’s third full album is saturated in her new home life, imbued with her struggles as writer’s block got its claws into her and the ethereal, meditative peace she has found and made for herself as she navigates the path of motherhood.

“The great thing about ageing is how much you learn about life as you go,” says Barrett.

“In my 20s I thought I knew everything, but it wasn't until I had my son at 31 that the real learning began. Our children can be little mirrors, showing us our weaknesses and our strengths, our patterns and our pitfalls. Before I became a mother, I thought I would teach my child everything I knew. I didn't expect to learn so much from him! The journey of motherhood has brought me to know myself. What a gift!”

After struggling with her own sense of identity while harbouring a desire to be open and fluid as an artist, Barrett found her creativity in nature through a forest therapy course in Glengarriff Nature Reserve and through music as she began to experiment with the loop pedal and tongue drum.

As her creativity flowed through these meditative mediums, she found she was a long way from the cheesy and cliché sentiments usually reserved for greeting cards as she explored the overwhelming love for one's child and transformation of becoming a parent.

To sum it up, ‘Sapling be…’ is a journey through motherhood, love and loss, the very life cycle of nature itself. It’s no wonder nature is so important to Polly and features so heavily on the new record.

“It reminded me how connected with nature we all are. Not even connected – we are nature. I wanted to express that in this album – a connection to the earth, the past, ourselves. It's all the same thing really,” says Barrett.

Initially used as a tool for meditation, the tongue drum quickly found a comfy place in Barrett’s song writing, opening her up to fully embody the music she was creating. Two tracks on the record, ‘Sapling Be’ and ‘Hedgerow’, were created using just the tongue drum and loop pedal. Other songs also feature the loop pedal including ‘Huge Mistake’, ‘Sparrow’, and ‘Standing By The Sea’.

Barrett plays most of the instruments on the album, demonstrating her prowess on acoustic guitar, tongue drum, bodhrán, tin whistle, low whistle, bass guitar, and piano. You could say she’s a Polly-math when it comes to musical instruments!

Barrett has several upcoming live shows where fans on Leeside and further afield will be able to experience the songs in new ways as she uses different instruments in her live performances to the recorded songs.

She plays the White Horse in Ballincollig on 26 October, and Levi’s Cornerhouse in Ballydehob on 27 October before heading to county Clare for a show at Pot Duggan’s in Ennistymon.

Released singles ‘Huge Mistake’ and ‘Sapling Be’ have already given fans their first glimpse into this new motherly world from which she creates her art, with ‘Sapling Be’ in particular exploring the relationship she has with her son.

Barrett says: “The song is like a wish for my son that he grows strong and tall like a great oak tree, and with his roots firmly in the ground. That he never forgets his connection to nature.”

Barrett says her second single ‘Huge Mistake’ is an ode to finding beauty and one’s peace in an unexpected place. Both singles have earned support from RTE Radio 1’s Louise Duffy, Today FM/98FM’s Claire Beck, Lyric FM’s Marty Whelan, Dublin City FM’s John Barker, and Newstalk’s Sean Moncrieff.

Barrett is already a well-known name on the Irish folk scene. After releasing two albums, 2011’s ‘Mr Bookshop’ and ‘Probably Me’ in 2014, she took a break from music to focus on family. During the pandemic she quietly recorded and released ‘Dark Garden’, an EP of four new songs, one of which, 'Thinking About You' was chosen for a Discover Ireland Campaign for West Cork.

Barret performed an Official Showcase at Folk Alliance in the US in 2022 and has just returned from performing at Milkwaukee Irish Fest in the US alongside the Coronas, Wallis Bird, and a host of other Irish acts. She has also played alongside Jack O'Rourke, Caoimhín O'Raghallaigh, and recently wowed at Tradfest.

‘Sapling be…’ is out on 6 October. The record was mixed by Grammy-nominated producer Chris O'Brien who has worked with acts including Clannad, Aslan, and Emma Langford. The album was mastered by Richard Dowling at WAV Mastering, Limerick.