Words: Dylan Murphy
“’Forest‘ was one of those songs that you dream about, that just falls out of you. After my first album was released I wrote nothing for a long long time and then all of a sudden everything flows at once.”
Today, Dublin rapper Nealo has shared his first new single since 2020’s All The Leaves Are Falling era. ‘Forest’, sees the Clonsilla artist tilt the needle of his own craft without abandoning the naturalistic imagery and diary scrawl lyricism that earned him a Choice Prize nomination three years previous. It’s the spiritual successor to his last record, rather than the shiny new toy. Landing in at just over four minutes, the cut features the first solo feature from close friend and one half of Saint Sister, Morgana and sees him adopt a style that shares DNA with the musings of Navy Blue.
In that period of relative quiet, Nealo had time to reflect and on the new single he scans the systemic oppression and processes personal trauma of the past few years in a series of recollections. However, on ‘Forest’ it’s clear two things can be true at once and there’s still beauty in the hard times. Though he ends the track screaming into the abyss, there’s still plenty of reasons to be hopeful.
Speaking on the process, Nealo says “’Forest‘ was one of those songs that you dream about, that just falls out of you. After my first album was released I wrote nothing for a long long time and then all of a sudden everything flows at once.”
“I really felt how powerful songs can be to heal ourselves from all of the weight that we carry. The caged emotions, the birth of my son, the breakup of my marriage, the goodbyes to friends lost through drugs and suicide, the uncaring systems of power, the mother and baby homes, the homophobia and racism of the internet, the direct provision system, the housing crisis, the struggles of our friends and family. All of it was just pent up inside me and ready to come out at the right time. And it did on this song. ‘Forest‘ was written at the beginning of a lifelong friendship with Morgana. We met in the magic town of Doolin in Clare and have been thick as thieves ever since. This is the first song we created together.”
Listen to ‘Forest’ below:
Elsewhere on District: How a Visit to Rome Reinvigorated Denis Sulta.