Screaming Orphans record new album, Sunshine and Moss, at their home in Ireland

-Brenda Hillegas

Sunshine_and_Moss_CoverWhy don’t we sow some seeds?

Why don’t we satisfy our deeper needs?

These lyrics from “Every Woman Gardens” re-introduce us to Screaming Orphans on Sunshine and Moss. Maybe those “seeds” are songs. Maybe the “deeper need” is the live music and togetherness we’re seriously lacking right now.  Or maybe sisters Angela, Grainne, Joan, and Marie Therese really were just planting a summer garden at their family home in County Donegal, Ireland while working this album! What’s wrong with having more than one quarantine project, right?

Speaking of quarantine, it’s a relief to have the Diver sisters in our lives even just in digital form. Screaming Orphans draw in fans from many genres as they alternate between delivering albums of fun, you-won’t-sit-still pop music and lovely traditional favorites (you’ll find the latter on this- their 15th album release). While staying locked down safe at home in Ireland surrounded by family memories and musical traditions, the sisters gathered a collection of songs they loved listening to growing up and recorded them (on a Tascam DP32 they had on hand) in their own unique way. 

Through the songs on Sunshine and Moss, Screaming Orphans tell stories that we can only imagine our heads- the enchanting melodies in “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier” and the tales of “Mary from Dungloe” and “Pat Murphy’s Meadow”. Every chosen track has a personal meaning to this band and I can’t wait to hear why one day. At a concert. Live. In person.

“My Grandfather’s Clock” is very special to listen to as it features Screaming Orphans’ parents, Kathleen and Sean Diver, on backing vocals. Vocals are always incredible on any Screaming Orphans album and hearing the four of them sing their sweet hearts out together never fails to knock your socks off. Head straight to “Factory Girl” if this is your first time hearing anything from Screaming Orphans. For die-hard fans who spend their summers frequenting various Celtic festivals and know the tune well, the rendition of “Ye Jacobites By Name” on Sunshine and Moss is just perfect.

This at-home project truly covers the songs that make Screaming Orphans feel at home.  And while Orphans fans, both new and familiar, could really do with an in person show right now, Sunshine and Moss makes us feel like we are all together anyway. The album will be released later this summer and you can preorder it here. Screaming Orphans had originally planned to debut it at the Iowa Irish Festival (and I was cautiously looking at flights to join them), but alas, that festival won’t happen this year. I look forward to the day I can hear the album’s final track, “Peggy on the Settle”, performed live. It starts off in lullaby fashion- just about putting you to sleep before you’re jolted awake and encouraged to get up and dance. This would have been a perfect finale. I can picture it now- the crowd jumping to their feet and clapping along.

And until we can actually jump, shout, and scream together again, this album will suffice. 

Screaming Orphans will be performing, virtually, via the Philadelphia Folksong Society’s digital concert series this Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are available here.

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