"I was in trouble back there for a bit but now I think anything is possible. I achieved what I've always wanted - an album full of songs that mean something." Gemma Hayes - 2006
If Gemma Hayes could press rewind and start all over again - would she?
In the space of a few years, the Irish singer-songwriter found herself plucked out of obscurity, into the media spotlight. But under the glare she lost her muse and underwent another journey of self-discovery before emerging at last with a second album worth the wait.
Against her parents' wishes, Tipperary-born Gemma left university - and her job in a launderette - signed to a hip record label and, after a couple of well-received EPs, recorded magical debut album 'Night On My Side' in 2002. The debut won critical acclaim and was nominated for the UK's prestigious Mercury Music prize.
So she sat down to write her second album - but couldn't.
"Sometimes when you come off the road, you get the blues," says Gemma. "You don't know what on earth you're going to do with your life. I had that feeling for two years"
With the same determination that saw Gemma take a gamble in the first place, she rolled the dice for a second time.In the summer of 2004, Gemma cut herself off from everything familiar. And in a remote part of County Kerry she began to write – and slowly the songs came.
With a bunch of new tracks, Gemma headed to the sunshine of Los Angeles to record with drummer and producer Joey Waronker. Gemma wrote a wish-list of musicians to work with – Josh Klinghoffer (guitarist with PJ Harvey), Cedric LeMoyne (bassist with Remy Zero) and Roger Manning Jr (keyboardist with Beck) – she got them all.
Gemma was back – and with a stunning new album 'The Roads Don't Love You,' infused with Gemma’s knack for soaring melodies and unique lilting voice.
"All of us are trying to figure shit out all the time. This album is saying 'Look, I don't know what the answer is. And I don't care'".
Since then she has released one more album, 2008's The Hollow of Morning.