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A lifetime of love

A lifetime of love is brought together in a special series of singles from Strabane singer/songwriter Brian Hassan.

As part of a Covid support programme for musicians from the Arts Council Brian is set to release four songs, all dedicated to his wife Maura.

The first single ‘What’s in a Smile’ released earlier this year, was followed by ‘Hey Pretty Lady’.  In recent days ‘It Must Be Love’ has beenreleased and this will be followed next month with the final single ‘After Midnight’.

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Speaking about the leading lady in his life Brian explains the couple met at the Inter County Hotel (Pink Paradiso disco) in January 1985… and some 35 years later Brian remembers the night like it was yesterday. ‘Love at first sight, it does exist,” he laughed.

“I still remember her first smile, who she was with that night… everything about it, and that’s the inspiration for these songs,” he explained.

“The four songs tell the story. ‘What’s in a Smile’ is when you’re  at the disco and you spot somebody and they smile back, that’s the initial track; ‘Hey Pretty Lady’, is when you’re asking somebody out, you’re both taking a chance; then after a while you realise you’re hooked –  that’s ‘It Must Be Love’; and finally ‘After Midnight’ when  you realise you just want things to stay this way. The songs progress as the relationship progresses,” Brian explained.

“People may have heard me playing an acoustic version of some of these songs  but these productions are totally different.

“I was awarded a Arts Council grant to do four singles. Initially the plan was to work with Frank Gallagher, who has worked with the likes of Phil Coulter, and Katie Meula, and then bring in some other musicians. Frank was tied up with other projects so I contacted Peter McVeigh a friend in Belfast to see if he could help. Peter has worked with lots of people including Busta Rhymes, the Goo Dolls and Travis.

Brian Hassan and his wife Maura back in 1985 shortly after they started going out.

“Frank selected the  songs and then I had to get vocals and guitar recorded, I was able to use  Eamon ‘Sticks’  Doherty for this part of the project,” Brian continued. “One of the problems I had when I started recording was I hadn’t realised the effect Covid had on my voice (Brian has Covid-19 last September). I can feel a hoarseness. a tightening up. At times it can feel ok, but I wouldn’t like to try a two hour gig. I had to record the vocals three different times to try and improve them. Before Covid I could have done a four hour gig without even thinking about it.

“I then forwarded the vocals to Peter and he was able to pull in some musicians he knew. The tracks changed from what I thought I wanted. Like I had ‘What’s in a Smile’ as a guitar track with violins coming in, now it’s piano and strings, it’s completely changed and I think it’s brilliant.

“Peter  got John McCullough, who is currently working with Van Morrison, to play the piano and then he sent the tracks to America to Mark Evitts (double grammy certificate winner) and he did strings , Conor McManus did drums and Kitija Ernstsone played the saxophone.

“Overall the whole project exceeded my expectations, the production on these are amazing. I’m delighted with how things have turned out,” he added.

• ‘What’s in a Smile’, ‘Hey Pretty Lady’ and ‘It Must Be Love’ are all now available at https://music.apple.com/gb/album/whats-in-a-smile/1559904182?i=1559904183

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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