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Megan Reilly Bio
Photo by Jason Creps
How in the world could we possibly have arrived here? Megan Reilly's "To Seal My Love" leaves the listener defenseless in its wake. An opening verse with plaintive voice and chiming guitar fit for a lullaby soon shifts gears into roaring, triumphant, anthemic majesty. Enveloping. Touching. Enlightening. Exuding from every musical crevice the overwhelming, radiant warmth of love–love that never before seemed likely or even possible to Megan or to listeners of her mysteriously alluring music. A song that was anything but inevitable.
Since our last ghostly encounter with the enigmatic Megan Reilly's captivating music, she's had a child, moved out of New York, learned to bake and quilt, and become fully domesticated. We fear that maybe she's gone soft or forgotten how to write the songs that captured our hearts in the first place. Instead, during her recording sabbatical, Megan has been living her life to the fullest, experiencing the deepest pain and hurt that life can throw at us, but then, shockingly, for what feels like the first time in her life, she also has earned life's greatest gift: love. "I was used to writing from a mournful place. Having a child and being in love filled me with such unfamiliar happiness that I didn't know how to write about it. So I learned how to quilt. I made eight quilts in five years."
In the musical interim, Foljahn departed and was replaced by a new elemental piece, virtuoso guitarist James Mastro (Health and Happiness Show, Patti Smith, Ian Hunter). Their bond was immediate, as if their musical talents were destined to augment each other. Megan finally began writing her third record. "I didn't want any more time to pass without making music so I booked the studio time in advance when I had only four songs written. Then I would tell people, 'I'm making a record soon,' thinking that if I said it enough it would happen. And it did. I wrote whenever I could, so now I know that method works."
The resulting album, The Well, marks an enormous musical leap that mirrors the vast changes in Megan's personal life since Ghost was written. The album title refers to the muse that lies deep within that propels the music. "Despite my fear that I had used up all my talent on my first two records and had nothing to offer, the best work I've ever done was lying dormant all along, waiting for me to pay attention."
The Well is a giant leap by Megan Reilly, both musically and thematically. It is also a rich and carefully chosen metaphor. A Well can be a deep place of impenetrable darkness, fear, and mystery, a place that does not relinquish its visitors. In these depths, Megan again bravely faces off with the specter of existential darkness that haunts us all. Like her past few albums, Megan's enveloping music, a cross between emotive Irish fatalism and Southern Gothic macabre, comfortably camps in these darkest of corners. "The Lady of Leitrim," filled with Lenny Kaye's singularly ethereal riffs, haunts us long after The Lady disappears, and as an arrow punctures Megan's heart, her little "Little Angel" flies away before its time. But her surprising cover of Iris Dement's plaintive "After You're Gone" portends new directions. Upon this song's foundation of pain, Megan finds the strength to face Death, feel its deepest sting, yet hold the love for her departed that much closer.
Following her seemingly eternal dark night of the soul, no one is more surprised than Megan that, upon emerging, she has found that The Well is also a place of creativity and redemption. If you listen, quietly and patiently, The Well can be your muse, offering up blindingly beautiful gems like her obliquely enigmatic "To Seal My Love," again with Lenny Kaye's indispensable shimmer. Maybe an old friend like John Wesley Harding receives his own visit and is handed an earworm of a duet, "Old Man and the Bird." Once discovered, the muse of "The Well" can lead you out the darkness once and for all.
Megan Reilly hails from Memphis, Tennessee, where at age sixteen, she had already started writing, singing, and playing songs on her guitar. With its rich and tragic history, there's a dark, mysterious quality to life in Memphis, and that history clearly found its way into Megan's songs from the very start.
At twenty-three, Reilly moved to New York City, and the teenage dreams and demons that fueled her earliest work had grown into more complicated ghosts. Reilly's songs had grown, and when she sang them alone on a stage, accompanying herself on guitar, people listened closely and were intrigued. Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth was among Reilly's early fans and supporters there, and he helped guide Megan through the New York music scene, including an important introduction to guitarist Tim Foljahn (Two Dollar Guitar, Cat Power). Soon her duo was rounded out to a full band of tremendous players—Steve Goulding (The Mekons) on drums, Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu) on bass, and Eric Morrison (Home) on piano. These were busy, talented people—all seasoned players with many other projects—and yet, attracted to the idea of gathering their unique talents around this equally unique voice, they all committed to Megan's musical vision.
The group recorded Megan's first full-length release for Carrot Top Records, Arc of Tessa, which the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette declared "to one day be remembered as the unheralded gem of alternative-country 2003, a haunting collection of aching ballads." Arc of Tessa was widely praised from Time Out New York and Maxim, to No Depression who cheered it as "drop-dead gorgeous...melancholy folk-pop of the highest order."
In 2006, Megan teamed with producer Sue Garner for her second album, Let Your Ghost Go. Ghost garnered even more praise than Arc, and significantly raised her profile. The Dallas Observer said, "her songs [are] perhaps the most delightful combination of vulnerability and Southern grace you'll hear this decade--and her voice--oh God, that voice…" Harp's Brian Baker opined, "Reilly and her crack band give beauty and pain a palpable sonic presence...Another triumph." Megan played a few shows nationally in Memphis, Chicago, and Dallas, but even as her profile grew, she mostly kept close to her current New York base.
"Singer/songwriter Megan Reilly has the voice
of an angel. The Memphis native sheds the folkie-pop sweetness of her 2003
debut, Arc of Tessa, for an elegant affair of sad songs. The amber tones
of Let Your Ghost Go look at loss with a hint of optimism. It's as lovely
as Loretta Lynn's best, and a flawless match to peers such as Cat Power and
Edith Frost. Covering some of rock's finest songwriters like Thin Lizzy's
Phil Lynott, Van Morrison, and Bob Dylan takes guts, and Reilly obviously
has the grace and goods to do it."-MacKenzie Wilson All Music Guide "Under
the Radar in 2006" End of Year Pick
"Reilly's got the sensitive, poetic thing
down, but it's the unexpected toughness that makes Let Your Ghost Go a
keeper. The song "Tropic of Cancer" is an agitated folk-rocker,
split open by a wailed curse. Then it drifts away on a bed of guitar feedback
and clarinet, a respite after the violence."-Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune
The Well is vast and deep, running from Memphis to New York. It's haunting and lovely. It's a breakout work.
One Sheet also available as PDF.
also available as PDF.
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--After a 5 year wait, Megan Reilly returns with her captivating new album, The Well, which holds a creative leap born of great, unexpected personal transformation. Megan's countrified Memphis roots and subsequent NYC escape still underpin her music, music which resounds with her "delightful combination of vulnerability and Southern grace" (Dallas Observer). But The Well holds a treasure chest of surprises. Megan's country-tinged coo and warble can still turn on a dime to a hair-raising growl. For the first time, her musical tone and lyrical focus at times portray an urgent sense of hope wrought by love. With her band of aces, Stephen Goulding (Mekons), James Mastro (Bongos, Health and Happiness Show), and Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu), and even a duet with John Wesley Harding, Megan Reilly has made her finest statement to date. "Heartrending."-NPRMusic "Jaw-dropping."-Maxim
Let Your Ghost Go CD saki038
--Second album from NY via Memphis singer/songwriter maintains the sense of understated elegance that was apparent on her debut Arc of Tessa but leaps light years ahead in melody, musicianship and
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normal expectations for sophomore albums. Her band of aces, Tony Maimone
(bass-Pere Ubu, Gary Lucas), Steven Goulding (drums-Mekons, Graham Parker and the Rumour,
Waco Brothers, Archer Prewitt, Laura Cantrell), Tim Foljahn (guitar, lap steel,
mandolin-Two Dollar Guitar, Cat Power) and Eric Morrison (piano, rhodes-Leels,
Home) are augmented by amazing guest performances by Ted Reichman (Marc Ribot,
Emigre, Tzadik) on accordion, James Mastro (Ian Hunter, Health and Happiness
Show) on guitar, and Jean Cook (Ida, Assif Tsahar) on violin and the perfectly
chosen Sue Garner and John McEntire behind the boards. Megan struggles with
ghosts, both personal and distant, over 10 country tinged tracks. The album
is sprinkled with two ideal covers, including Dylan's "The Wedding Song" that
she was born to sing. "Jaw-dropping."-Maxim. UPC#789397003824
Arc of Tessa CD saki034
--One of Harp's "Top Nine Emerging Songwriters": "There's nothing
astonishing in her background to suggest she would be destined for the greatness
of ner debut album, Arc of Tessa...Incredible musical potential." New
York by way of Memphis singer/songwriter who has managed to corral a fantastic
backing band including Tim Foljahn (guitar, lap steel, mandolin-Two Dollar
Guitar, Cat Power), Steven Goulding (drums-Mekons, Graham Parker and the
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Brothers, Archer Prewitt), Tony Maimone (bass-Pere Ubu, Gary
Lucas) and Eric Morrison (piano, rhodes-Leels, Home) and help on the album
from Chris Lee (Smells Like). Picture postcards of physical or emotional time
underpinned by roots tinged music executed w/soulful and subtle perfection
by masters. Megan's voice radiates languid southern indolence but can also
bite just as quickly and strongly. As close to perfect as any record we have
released. Hints of Opal, Patsy Cline, Cowboy Junkies, Lucinda Williams, and
Mazzy Star. UPC#789397003428
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Megan Reilly Downloads
Megan Reilly's releases are also available for download at Fina
Music, Other Music Digital here, or at the iTunes Music Store
See Megan's Tour Dates
L I N K S
Nice New York Press
show preview from November 2007.
Wolf at Time Out NY picked Megan's 11/29 show at the Lakeside
Lounge. The lucky ones who showed up to pack the music room were treated to a set that was
nearly transcendent in its beauty.
“Are there more of us than you?” Megan Reilly asked from the
three-inch-high Lakeside Lounge “stage” on a recent Wednesday.
There were six people watching the nonchalantly elegant country-pop singer
and her five cohorts, so it was a fair fight. “Doesn’t matter,” she
concluded, smiling believably.
Many play music for fame, financial gain or to get laid. Others play simply
because they’re musicians—the perks are nice but not necessary.
Reilly and Co. fall into the latter category. Though Let Your Ghost Go (Carrot
Top), Reilly’s slow-burning album from this past February, is just her
second, she’s been singing and writing for years. She left Memphis for
NYC in the mid-’90s, bringing along slow-moving ways and a distinctly
Tennessean country-noir vibe. Fame or not, top-shelf players around town have
been drawn to her since she arrived, and her potent band now includes drummer
Steve Goulding (Mekons), bassist Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu), veteran guitarist
and producer James Mastro, keyboardist Eric Morrison (Home) and his multi-instrumentalist
wife, Jenny Morrison. Mastro’s finesse is particularly key: His soft,
reverbed twang suggests both the heart of Texas and the blue sea, both deep.
In the tiny Lakeside, Reilly’s vocals are restrained. But she can do
the Walls of Jericho thing easily, without sacrificing any of the ache embedded
in her nuanced voice. You can sense that power when she backs away from the
microphone to sing “Tropic of Cancer,” which you’ll surely
hear tonight. It might not matter to her if only six people come, but it should
to the rest of us.—Mike Wolf
Dagger interview with
Megan on Ghost.
Brian Baker at Harp says, "On Ghost,
Reilly finds her muse in the paralyzing absences of important people in her
personal and creative
her late grandmother,
even Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, who she tributes with a gorgeous cover
of 'Little Girl in Bloom' As she contends with her losses, Reilly
and her crack band give beauty and pain a palpable sonic presence with a blend
of folk introspection ('Ringing a Bell'), pop melodicism and power
('On a Plane,' 'Wedding Song') and firefly
glimmers of ambient atmosphere ('Nighttime'). Another
"Like the backing of the Sadies (hear the Dylan cover), the glamour
of Neko Case and one the the sweetest break-up letters ever written backed
into one shining corner together - Megan Reilly outshines the league which
she will undoubtedly be cast into on Let Your Ghost Go...If this
is the first you have heard of Reilly (I can't lie - 'twas mine), do hear
her before you
are reminded / begged to from everyone else.. . it
shouldn't be much longer," saith SCTAS.com.
Read this Treblezine
review of Let Your Ghost Go.
RWS magazine review of the "hauntingly
beautiful" new album Let
Your Ghost Go.
Permission magazine kindly included "Tropic of Cancer" on the latest
Music We Trust features an
interview with Megan Reilly.
Online describes Arc of Tessa as a ... "jaw dropping debut."
Take a look at these live performance images from
the Mercury Lounge on March
booking information about Megan, contact
Carrot Top Records, Inc.
more info on Megan check out her web site.
and her MySpace
For press and publicity information, please contact Shore Fire Media or Sneak Attack Media.