Critically acclaimed English singer and songwriter Maz O’Connor releases Chosen Daughter, her first new studio album since 2016, on October 25 via Restless Head/Hudson Records.
Maz O’Connor firmly established herself as a rising star with widely praised LPs The Longing Kind on which she addressed Millennial angst, and its predecessor This Willowed Light, a folk set released during her year as recipient of a BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowship. Her latest work Chosen Daughter was in many ways a long time coming. Although Maz had been writing prolifically since The Longing Kind in 2016, no clear direction for her new album emerged. Once the themes that shape Chosen Daughter started to come together, the whole process was unlocked and Maz knew exactly the record she was supposed to make.
It was when she travelled back to her grandmother’s childhood home in Ireland that these new songs began to flow and the writing process became quite unconscious. The result is an unflinchingly personal collection of songs, which explores the connections between several themes: the affecting stories of Maz’s Irish grandmothers, her reflections on grandmother-mother-daughter relationships and how female trauma can be passed down through generations, and her own reckoning with her experiences of being a young woman now.
The seeds of Chosen Daughter were sown in a chance conversation Maz had with her mother as they watched the film Philomena (about a woman’s search for her forcibly adopted son in Ireland), which revealed that her mum had been adopted from a Catholic mother and baby home run by nuns. Her mum’s birth mother had been an Irish domestic servant in England when she fell pregnant. Her story inspired ‘Predator’ and ‘Finer Than I’ on the new album.
Also from Ireland, Maz’s father’s mother was born in Waterford one of five girls, who were left destitute when their father died. Her eldest sister moved from Ireland to San Francisco, aged 16, to become a nun, and in return the Order educated and housed all of her sisters in England, effectively saving the family. The track ‘San Francisco’ was born from her story.
Discovering that both of her biological grandmothers were Irish immigrants who had suffered due to their gender and their poverty was striking to Maz, who felt a real need to tell their stories. Added to this, the previous 3-4 years had been transformational in terms of Maz’s own relationship with her gender. Like many women, The #MeToo movement was very important to her and she’d also been deeply moved by the book ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves’, which made her re-examine her thoughts on patriarchy. The song ‘Loved Me Better’ came out of that exploration.
The confluence of all of these strands created Chosen Daughter, a personal tour de force from Maz and yet a record which will resonate universally. The album title itself is a reference to adoption, to religion, and to feeling like the next link in a chain of women that stretches back hundreds of years; the one, thanks to their sacrifices, able to tell the stories.
Known for her captivating stage presence and her stunning voice, Maz will tour in support of Chosen Daughter, including an album launch show with full band at London’s The Courtyard Theatre on November 15th and a performance at Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room (part of Liverpool Irish Festival) on October 23rd. More dates to be announced.
The first single, ‘San Francisco’ – official video: