Photo: Andy Hughes / Courtesy of Big Hassle

Ciaran Lavery’s Lucky Number Is “13” (premiere)

Ciaran Lavery creates subtle vignettes about life, love, and how we exist in the world, as you'll hear on his new single "13".

Singer-songwriter Ciaran Lavery comes from a small town in Northern Ireland where his solo work has won major awards and through the magic of streaming, has been streamed over 80 million times worldwide on Spotify. He creates subtle vignettes about life, love, and how we exist in the world. He’s a soft-hearted realist. Lavery notes that one can be cruel and kind at the same time without meaning to be either. More importantly, he expresses this with a lyrical flair that combines sensitive insights with harsh truths told in a language that bespeaks poetry. Lavery keeps the verbiage simple, often brutally so, and sings the stanzas with a quiet intensity that suggests he has rubbed the words down to their essence.

Consider these lines from the chorus of “13”—a title that seemingly reveals nothing about the song’s contents: “Love is like a suicide / Hearts are like two passing trains.” The individual self dies when becoming part of a couple. Two people never really know each other no matter how much they want to. Lavery croons these dark lines as if they both are true because he knows we are always changing and either can be accurate from one moment to the next. Not only are relationships dynamic, how we perceive them continually fluctuates. He’s just released a video of the track (directed by Joseph Wright) that beautifully captures the tug of war of the song’s mixed emotions.

Lavery has described the cut this way: “13” looks at my failings when it came to maintaining relationships and my inability to remain present. Some of this is because of my occupation and some I have yet to understand about myself. The video is a snapshot of this, from both perspectives – one longing and striving to reconnect, the other estranged and forgetful of what was/is in front of them.” The two on-screen dancers, Zahra Banzi and Sandra Ohlsson, grasp each other tenderly one moment and let go unthinkingly the next as their union never holds. Their expressions are masks that hide their feelings from each other and themselves. Lavery’s voice captures the cost of not committing and the ache of wanting to yield as two sides of the same coin.

The song “13” appears on his third full-length album Sweet Decay released in March 2018. He’ll be touring the U.S. this summer to promote the album. The scheduled tour dates (so far) are below.


June 20th – Boot and Saddle – Philadelphia, PA

June 21st – Jammin Java – Vienna, VA

June 22nd – Communion at Rockwood Music Hall – New York, NY

June 23rd – Café 939 – Boston, MA

June 25th – Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto, Canada

June 28th – Raccoon Motel – Davenport, IA

July 1st – Space – Evanston, IL

Call for essays, reviews, interviews, and list features for publication consideration with PopMatters.
Call for essays, reviews, interviews, and list features.