New York state-based folk singer Lorkin O’Reilly performs at the Vault on Friday, March 22. (Photo courtesy Aloha Bonser Shaw)

Folk singer’s globe-trotting taking him to Nanaimo

Lorkin O’Reilly explores the immigrant experience on new album, plays the Vault on Friday, March 22

When Lorkin O’Reilly was 18 years old he bought a one-way ticket from Scotland to the United States to start his life anew.

“I wanted to get out of the U.K.,” said the folk singer, who crossed the Atlantic in 2012. “My parents had gone through a pretty rough divorce and I barely scraped through high school so university or college wasn’t really in the cards and I think I was just looking to sort of start somewhere fresh and new again.”

O’Reilly had just received his green card and was working on a construction site in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. when he met a local studio owner who offered to help him record his debut album.

“I was pretty much broke and his studio was like $1,000 a day but he kindly just wanted to produce the record and we did it late at night on, like, weird session times,” O’Reilly said.

The result of those oddly scheduled recording sessions is Heaven Depends, O’Reilly’s first full-length album, released last summer. This month O’Reilly embarks on his second North American West Coast tour, which includes his first Vancouver Island show at the Vault in Nanaimo on March 22.

O’Reilly said the album reflects upon “the immigrant’s journey.”

“What I was going through, just like finding a new identity in a new country, I feel [was] the underlining message of the whole record. Funnily enough, I didn’t really realize it until sitting down in the mastering session and listening to it all at once,” O’Reilly said. “Heaven Depends was, again, playing with that idea that it’s kind of like the American dream, but it’s all depending. There’s a lot of stuff outside of your control.”

O’Reilly said he’s been “pleasantly surprised” with how the record was received, considering he was an unsigned artist with low expectations at the time. A record label has since picked him up and he’s had the opportunity to tour around North America and back to United Kingdom. Despite living in the U.S. for seven years, O’Reilly said he feels out of place in both.

“It’s long enough now that my accent has changed and I’m not really accepted as being a Brit anymore back at home, but I’m also not really an American here,” he said. “So I represent the in-between folks.”

WHAT’S ON … Lorkin O’Reilly performs at the Vault on Friday, March 22 at 8 p.m.



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