I have a love
For those I love
From the opening haunting keys when Balfe sings I have a Love, an cry of friendship for a friend that is no longer there. This is 9 songs of remembrance. Remembering a youth growing up where friendship is what carried them through the hardship of their surroundings. “I have a love and it never fades and neither will you. Paul”.
It is autobiographical, a coming of age album, a story of Balfe and his friends time together. Their career in music, their mistakes in life on Dublin’s Northside and just a gang of friends “having the craic”. Suddenly it stopped when one of their gang stopped breathing. Nothing would ever be the same again.
Working class people are notoriously averse to discussing their felings. There is a reason why psychologists are not strong in working class areas and it’s not just lack of finance. People in socially deprived areas are too busy with getting through the battle of life to concern themselves with their feelings. This is sad but true.
And so Balfe is knocking these stereotypes to the ground. Like a bowling ball heading through the pins of emotions ‘For those I love’ crashes through. It’s an electronic journey with beats and feelings, interlaced with Balfe’s strong Dublin accent.
In the battle for belonging and kinship through a time when people can’t bond this has really struck a chord. Many people are currently starting to emerge from isolation and this record is the accompaniment for that Spring. It has anger and hope. It has desperation. It expresses loss, many of us have felt such loss over through Covid and have been unable to attend our loved ones funerals. It has great tunes. It feels like we have over the past 15 months.
As I went on one of my many walks through the streets of North Dublin this provided 45 minutes of a soundtrack. I look through the streets, darkness is descending, some of those streets are painted with chalk signs of hope, some have windows with pictures of flowers starting to bloom and many broken windows. I walk past some gangs of kids on street corners, I’m wary but they have nowhere to go. The cops have already been on to them “What are you doing here lads? Have you no homes to go to? Turn out your pockets” I get the smell of smoke, I fear for my safety but turn up the volume and as we pass each other the beats are similar. “There’s not a lot of steps between peace and utter misery, when you’re 17 and all you have is love and dreams” burst through my head. The tunes have given some a ray of light. For others they are not so lucky. ‘Howya Lads’.
Through it all this is a political statement. For working class people expressing emotions is a political act in itself. When they open to this and view what’s going on they see that class structures still exist in society. “You’re drugs aren’t class they’re upper middle class” Balfe spits through his teeth, growing up in a time when people of his generation but not his peers where having their “Teeth whitening, pay for designer dogs. Dad crashed the banks but kept his job” while many around him lost their jobs as a result. Some people turn to drugs to escape. Some of these lose their battle to drugs but when he looks around he sees “Addicts that get dehumanised because they’re poor.”. It’s not quite as simple as that but a good starting point.
So yes, this in simple form is a remembrance album to his friend with some poignant beats and words. It is also an important statement about growing up in a world that isn’t so safe.