When it comes to music that’s a blend of Irish traditionalism and American style, Tupelo have the market cornered, complete with an award-winning debut album that’s as enjoyable to listen to as it is easy to get immersed in. Described by lead singer James Cramer as “a combination of alt-rock and soul”, every song on the band’s debut album is carefully considered, beautifully crafted and fits perfectly into Tupelo’s musical journey.
With a name inspired by Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey and a commitment to the more traditional stylings of music, Tupelo are truly a revolution in the folk industry, pulling from many different influences and utilising all their skills and talent to produce music that’s both original and eerily familiar. With the band claiming that “instruments are just a vessel for the songs”, it’s clear to see that the focus of each single is the lyrical stylings, with each guitar strum and folky riff adding layers of depth to every word.
Led by the charismatic and often entrancing James Cramer, who by his own admission has “been in bands since [he] was 15 performing [his] compositions”, Tupelo have evolved over the years from a four-piece group with little direction into a compact, two-person unit with songs that are far more focused, as well as much more appealing to a broader audience. Originally hailing from Dublin, Cramer is the backbone of Tupelo’s musical genius, writing practically every day to produce fresh, new and exciting content for his fan base.
According to Cramer, creating music for Tupelo is effortless, stating that “We could do an album every 2/3 weeks and that’s no joke”. A co-writer for multiple Irish musicians such as Luan Parle, Hermitage Green and Darren Holden, as well as his position as the front man for Tupelo, Cramer’s love for music comes across in everything he does, from his varied instrumental talents through to his commitment to writing excellent lyrics that provoke emotion and show passion.
Alongside his band work, Cramer also has a burgeoning solo career that looks set to take off at any moment, and cites the source of his inspiration, in part, as “the music [he is] exposed to, what’s on at home, the people you meet who turn you on and the music you research and dig out”
Born in Dublin back in the late 1990s, Cramer has a long and storied love affair with the more classical forms of music, letting pop pass him by in favour of taking up the guitar and banjo on the streets of the historic city and honing his skills through less traditional means than you might expect. This passion for instruments translated directly into the creation of Tupelo in 2018 and the singer-songwriter hasn’t looked back since.
The second part of the duo, Kevin Duffy, adds extra dimensionality to Cramer’s musical creations thanks to his expertise in the fiddle as well as the mandolin and guitar, effortlessly adding to and expanding on that sweet folky, rock-based sound you expect from Tupelo thanks to the mastery of his art.
Alongside Cramer’s love of creating new songs, Duffy adds stability to the group, transforming the raw ideas into complete songs thanks to his musical prowess and ability to polish just about any piece of work with his on-point use of fiddle, guitar and backing vocals. This makes for a powerful combination of creative and beautiful lyrics alongside catchy and nostalgia-heavy folk tunes that you won’t be able to get out of your head.
Originally consisting of a four-person lineup, with James Cramer alongside Kevin Duffy, Damien McMahon, and Paul Murray filling each part, the alt-rock group has since streamlined down to just two members. Cramer remains at the helm to steer the band’s direction with his lyrical prowess, while Duffy provides an additional layer of vocals plus the fiddle and other instruments as and when required. According to the two artists, the moment they knew they’d made it as a duo was “when you get in the car and your song comes on the radio randomly that’s the moment.”
Signed to Crashed Records, Tupelo have gone on to take America by storm with touring dates including Kansas City Irish Fest, Michigan Irish Festival and the Chicago Irish Fest. As well as their already established fanbase across Europe, attendance at tours and events across Ireland, the UK, France, Belgium, Norway and even Russia during the promotion of their latest work have gained them critical acclaim as well as a number seven position in the Danish iTunes charts for album “Push On”.
Announced as ‘Best Folk Act’ by Hot Press following the release of their first album “Dirty Money”, Tupelo’s latest foray into the world of folk has a lot to live up to – but the band are confident that they can meet the challenge, and match the success of their previous work, after a break from touring to write and create their new sound. According to Cramer, his goals for Tupelo are to “Tour more, record our new album in the US, keep building our fanbase and have songs that become musical furniture” – ensuring their fanbase is always fed with the new, on-point music that they love.
With all this success and more, Tupelo are showing no signs of slowing down, and their new direction towards American-style folk music – away from their previous love affair with classic Irish songwriting – is sure to turn heads and get their fans reinvested in what this band can do. With prior singles all receiving significant airtime across BBC Radio, the group is hoping they are set for another success with their upcoming work.
First album, “Dirty Money”, and the second, “Push On”, featured a highly folksy style. Instead of a continuation of Tupelo’s past work, their latest foray into music has heavy blues and America folk influences that aren’t difficult to miss.
The latest album to emerge from Tupelo, after a two-year wait, is the aptly titled “The Heart’s Bloodline”, the first album to heavily feature American-style folk. If there’s one thing Cramer loves to do, it’s to write, and their latest album is proof of that concept. The bandmates describe their newest creation as “songs that would be the spine of [his musical creations]”, whittling down his countless song creations to a sharp edge that’s sure to impress fans and draw new audiences in.
If you’re looking to find alt-rock you can connect to, then the soft, strong sounds of Tupelo might be the next best things for you. See their <a href=”https://www.tupelo.ie/music/”>full Spotify playlist</a> online today to discover why Irish Folk and American Alt-Rock go together so well.