The project of David Balfe, reminiscent of The Streets’ delivery and James Blake’s music, is a cathartic document following the death of his best friend.
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Cities in Dublin’s inner-city neighbourhoods of Coolock and Donaghmede were hit hard when the Irish recession hit the country’s economy in 2008. A generation emerging from the ruins is illuminated by the outspoken lyrics of David Balfe, who performs under the pseudonym For Those I Love. I was around people whose families, because of the recession, had lost their livelihoods,”I was around people whose families had lost their livelihoods because of the recession,” You don’t have the vocabulary at that young age yet, but you see this displacement, and you think, “Why are we suffering? His superb, self-titled debut album, due out later this year, penetrates the heart of the working class of Dublin. His deepest sorrows and depressions carry the almost biographical account, as do the accompanying memories of a childhood now coated with the golden glow of nostalgia.”
Balfe lays bare his life in nine songs, writing Streets-esque passages reminiscent of James Blake or Mount Kimbie over electronic productions. A typical lyric reads, “Red eyes and red credit, looking for a way to get out of the estate on Reddit.” With these narratives, Balfe travels around the group he built his life around while grieving his best friend and fellow artist Paul Curran, who died. For Those I Love started making music in his teenage years in a shed in the backyard of his parents, a refuge from what was at times a “very violent upbringing” in Donameghde and Coolock. A body was discarded at the end of his street when he was six years old, and he still recalls the blood stain on the road.
But he sought shelter in the shed along with his parents, a place where they “cut all their teeth,” and he was very grateful for the “confidence of being able to close the door, have privacy, and make noise.” The shed was also a symbol of a family close to him who “The shed was also a symbol of a family that was close to him, who ” but whose investment in his interests and his future ” but whose investment in his interests and his future ”
“I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t been able to draw on that love and care, it would have been a very different path in my life.” Finally, a band was formed. Metalcore was rendered by Plagues and the Branch Became.
With Paul, Burnt Out was anxiety-ridden punk. A profound depression settled over Balfe when Curran killed himself and sunk into his solo work. The Myth / I Don’t confront him with the residual echoes of grief: the terror of PTSD that overcomes him every time his phone rings, the fear of “what’s on the other end,” the prospect of another disaster. The bond that kept the two friends together now runs throaty. I have a poor memory,” Balfe says, “and one of my greatest fears is forgetting: people, events, stuff that influenced the person I am.” Putting those pieces on the record was a way for me to “immortalize those moments,” he says, because “without having their imprint all over it, there’s no way to make a record of the people I love. They’re more than just these stories, they’re their voices, they’re their voices, they’re their voices. Balfe listened to it every morning when it was over, as he rode the bus, and a “otherworldly comfort” settled over him. It would have been a way for me to have that catharsis without breaking down, without falling into the dark pit that might come if I left that door open.
But he dug out the album to rehearse for live shows with the live music industry slowly revving up its cold engine. The process of “getting air out of your lungs for the first time in months” gave him grace, he says. “For the first time in a while, I felt light.”
It’s a return to human feeling.’-The self-titled debut album for Those I Love will be released later this year.