At 23, I’m astounded by today’s youth. People even younger than me have accomplished so much in the few years they’ve lived in this world. One friend of mine spent this past school year hosting a charity ball, planning an art show, made a 35 on his ACT, and is even looking at colleges. He’s only 16 years old and still has yet to graduate from high school. Honestly, it makes me feel ashamed whenever I hear him talk about the things going on in his life, especially when he’s out making the world a better place while I’ve spent my off-days binge-watching Daredevil on Netflix (though it was totally worth it).
Even though I feel a bit inferior to these kids sometimes, these are the people that drive me. When I see them accomplishing all these feats, it jumpstarts something inside me—something that makes me want to reach for greatness as well. This week, my inspiration came from singer and songwriter Niamh Crowther and her eponymous EP.
Irish-born Niamh grew up in Dublin, and at 16, she won the 2013 Youth Music Award after competing with 15,000 other people. She released a number of singles afterwards that earned her wide acclaim. Hotpress magazine, a publication in Ireland, called her “one to watch.” BBC said, “She has pop sensibilities… a little bit of adventure in there as well. Plenty awaits.” One of her singles, “Little by Little,” was one of the most popular songs played on Irish radio last summer.
She is not even 20 years old, but she has already accomplished a lot in her music career. Mind you, many other artists younger than her have done more, but how many of them did this while completing their schooling? During 2014, while her career continued to flourish, she completed her Leaving Certificate, a document equivalent to a U.S. GED. To attend school full time while also building up a career is simply incredible and it only makes this young woman’s talent that much more spectacular.
It is amazing how much she has accomplished, but it makes you wonder if her music lives up to these expectations she has set up. Listening to her EP, I have to say the answer’s a clear “absolutely.” The EP is made up of four songs, “Painkillers,” “Origins,” “Little by Little,” and her newest single released on May 20th, “I’ll Be.” There isn’t a lot that can be compared between these songs, however, as Niamh seems to give each one its own twist of her talents. “Painkillers” and “Little by Little” are both slower songs and make use of gentle guitar strums. The former is the EP’s slowest, moved by the guitar’s steady rhythm. The narrator talks about she can be a remedy for the person she’s talking to throughout the song, telling them in soft, soothing tones how she feels the person is struggling. Even so, this person isn’t tied down to her, but rather the narrator encourages them to be whatever they want. It’s an interesting song that shows off Niamh’s talent with the guitar and her sweet tones.
While “Painkillers” maintains its softness and tempo, “Little by Little” quickly picks up in speed, rising in energy with every verse. It talks about how the narrator is trying to warn a friend that his girl might drop him at a whim. She’s not trying to get him for herself, but she is warning him of apparent perfection. Their relationship might change and eventually fall apart. Although she admits she may be mistaken, she still believes things will change. I found this song intriguing because unlike many pop songs where a girl wants another’s man all for herself, Niamh simply acts as a friend. It’s definitely a twist, but a welcome one.
In “Origins,” the instrumentals change completely as we discover an introduction to some keys. This piano-playing works well with her soft, high vocals. It’s a beautiful piece to listen to, but I’ll admit this song’s a bit trickier to figure out regarding the message. She talks about how tough it is to make decisions and push forward, wanting to go back home.
So, “Origins” was my least favorite, but the song I consider Niamh’s best was “I’ll Be.” Throughout this song, we hear the narrator give a number of metaphors, such as, “I’ll be the rope that binds us together in stormy weather,” and “I’ll be the beacon in the night when you’re in desperate need of light.” She will become anything and will do anything for the person she’s talking to. It’s a message I’ve heard before, but when you combine her vocals and uplifting instrumentals, it trumps other similar songs. All four songs showed off her astounding vocals, but in this track, I fell in love with how smooth and innocent she sounded. She reminds me of a mix between Emily McNally and Sarah Khan, two incredible vocalists I’ve enjoyed in the past. I won’t say any one of them is better than the other. Honestly, I’d love to see all three collaborate someday.
It is easy to see Niamh is full of talent, not just from her achievements, but from her music as well. She’s the kind of person who moves me, makes me want to create achievements of my own. Many people worry about the future generations because of past generations’ mistakes that have created potential problems their children and grandchildren will be stuck with. Even so, with young people like Niamh leading the charge into greatness, I think we’ll all be okay. More than okay, I’d like to see everyone’s talents shine, including Niamh’s in future releases. I want to be astounded.