Faye O’Rourke was the last member of the Dublin folk quintet Little Green Cars that I photographed. I’d shot the rest of the band a few hours previous in an empty amphitheater, a stone’s throw away from the club where they would perform that night. But Faye wanted to do her makeup and change outfits before shooting, so we reconvened 15 minutes before the band’s set.

The gate was now locked to the amphitheater, and the way she pronounced “shit” upon this discovery—with a hard Irish “i” so the profanity rhymed with “bite”—was delightful. We made our way to the basement of their venue where an abandoned bar with candy-red tacky seats and a neon bar were left barely-lit and untended. I told Faye she was incredibly photogenic—which she was, despite the awful sodium lighting. She stared into the camera with a brazen earnestness that I don’t often witness in performers from my camera.

The rest of the band projected a similar confidence and vulnerability: Face relaxed, eyes concentrated in a titanium lock reserved for drug interventions and marriage renewals, body language assertive but non-aggressive. It’s the physique of Atticus Ross before he addresses the courtroom in To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s the disposition of people who know they have something to say.

Little Green Cars are also all brunettes with fictionally blue eyes—guitarist Adam O’Regan said it was typical of the Irish.

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The shoot displayed a rare instance when a band’s personality visually matches its music. You could hear this band through their eyes. Little Green Cars stand at a folk nexus of love, tragedy, religion and bulletproof frustration, fought against like a soldier trudging through the muddy, slat-board purgatory of the Battle of the Somme. New album, Ephemera, borrows its name from a William Butler Yeats poem, a romantic elegy that ends with the lines “Before us lies eternity; our souls / Are love, and a continual farewell.” Few bands can perfect the balancing act of soul-dissolving sadness and beauty with a straight face. Even fewer musicians whose ages average 25.

But just as they did with their buoyant debut album, Absolute Zero, every emotion feels jarringly earned, channeled through seamless harmonies, acoustic guitars as crisp as the first fall freeze, and lyrics that veer between goofy and profound in a microsecond. See them live if the tickets don’t sell out and you’ll invite a parade of goosebumps into your soul—no shite. Pictures from the Columbus gig below, shot for Paste Magazine.

Portraits

Band in Order: Donagh Seaver O’Leary (bass), Stevie Appleby (vocals, guitar), Adam O’Regan (guitar), Dylan Lynch (percussion), Faye O’Rourke (vocals, guitar)

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Soundcheck

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Live Show

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