Dublin rapper Nealo has returned with his first song in over two years, since his Choice Prize nominated debut LP All The Leaves Are Falling in 2020 and a Carrie Baxter tune.
‘Forest’ features the vocals of Morgana of Saint Sister on the hook, a collaboration that came after the pair bonded at a songwriting camp.
The ‘Forest’ in the title is a sanctuary space, where Nealo spends time with his son The song finds the artist reflecting both inward and outwardly, speaking of recent feelings of shame and guilt and separating from his wife of 10 years, and having the worst year of his life, to a growing anger across the track about the social inequality for people who are pinned down by the cost of living, by direct provision and systemic oppression done in the name of religion.
As the song hits its crescendo, Nealo’s vitriolic voice grows to a booming shout, a frustrated release about the social injustice all around us.
The song was written in an hour, due to this clear-eyed vision.
“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.”Nealo
”The first time I heard an early demo of Forest I was sitting at my kitchen table. It was my birthday and I had covid. I was feeling very trapped and very sorry for myself. When I pressed play I was listening to an internal storm – I think I was already singing all over the track before Nelly asked me to lay down a verse. I had met Nelly just a few months before at an Artists writing camp and knew we’d be fast friends and long collaborators. I love the emotional fever pitch he reaches in his songs and always try to match it in my own writing. To me Forest is about finding the spaces (or maybe creating the spaces) you need to weather the storm. Nelly’s friendship has been that for me. I think the forest in the Phoenix park has been that for Nelly and maybe both of us have found some solace in shouting into the void; “Are ya okay? Are ya listening? Are ya crying. It’s okay. Let’s count our steps while we walk.”Morgana
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