The world needs more romantics, which is another way of saying – the world needs to meet Keith Harkin. Born in County Derry, the handsome young Northern Irishman has traveled far and wide in search of the perfect wave and the perfect inspiration for his next song. With surfboard and guitar as his essentials, Harkin has entertained throughout Europe, Australia and North America. His disarming charm has won over countless audiences. Whether it’s singing or sharing stories, there’s always a smile in his voice.
The obvious next question is: Who is Keith Harkin? For the thousands throughout the world who have witnessed “Celtic Thunder,” the spectacular musical celebration of Irish song and culture, he’s the eye-catching blond whose voice and stage presence stood him out even in the large ensemble. The those few who may have been at the Rialto in Derry City one special night some time ago, he was the precocious 4-year-old who stole the variety show with his rendition of “Mrs. Jenny Wren.” For many others, he’s simply a friend, a good guy to hang with at a seaside pub after a day spent riding waves along Ireland’s Atlantic coast. Though his Celtic roots are undeniable, his sound as a solo artist draws from that place where Matt Nathanson, Van Morrison, Jack Johnson and maybe a bit of Zac Brown and Joni Mitchell meet — that sweet spot between adult pop and acoustic contemporary.
Between his own records, Celtic Thunder and other projects, Harkin has recorded more than 20 albums, maybe two a year since he started being a musician 10 years ago. It’s worth noting that for all the immediacy of On Mercy Street, its appealing rough edges and spontaneity, Harkin brings a lifetime of experience into his sessions and onto the stage. Skilled on guitar and piano, he has performed on festival stages in the U.K., recorded with a 60-piece orchestra on his self-titled debut album with Grammy winner David Foster producing, and starred on the BBC Irish-language program Dha Theanga, whose music he also wrote and arranged. His solo concerts moved BBC Radio Ulster to hail him as the “Irish Jack Johnson.”
On his new album, ‘On Mercy Street’, (to be released later this year), the first Irish Single “Risk the Fall” is a meditation on the pain that can cut through love’s ecstasies, accompanied only by its composer, Patrick Murdoch, on acoustic guitar. They faced one another, recording into a single microphone positioned between them, each in his way bringing to life the truth of its refrain: “It’s hard to make sense of it all, I didn’t mean to get this high, but I’d risk the fall any day.”