Plying their craft before an adoring audience, an artist stands alone upon the stage. While the spotlight illuminates their gifts, there aren’t enough watts to cast out the shadowy specter which follows them. After the roses fall and the cheers subside, this fleeting joy succumbs to the succubus of mental illness. Folktronic artist Strawboy sets the scene with a dancer, who strives to keep her affliction at bay while keeping up a graceful appearance. Inspired by a true story, “Lady Lucia” is a moving, cinematic melody that delves into the split personality of the performer and the person behind the mask.
Ciarán O’Rourke, the artist behind Strawboy, found inspiration for “Lady Lucia” from the story of Lucia Joyce, the daughter of Irish author James Joyce. Lucia, who abruptly quit dancing at the age of 22, was under the care of famed psychiatrist Carl Jung. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, she lived out the rest of her days in mental institutions.
Performers only want you to see their curated side of displaying pure elegance and poise under pressure. In the case of “Lady Lucia,” a nimble, folktronic melody portrays a quiet dignity. However, while Lucia dances along to the symphony, there’s a nefarious force that lurks beyond the lighthearted tones.
On “Lady Lucia,” O’Rourke places his interpretation of Lucia in the limelight as she performs to escape from herself. The divided imagery of passionate performance versus interspersed cries for help vividly represent the duality of mental conflict. On the outside, everything’s refined, but, on the inside, everything could not be more out of sync. O’Rourke paints the appearance of an artist in their element while concurrently wiping away the facade on what insidiously churns within.
“Lady Lucia” is the first single from Strawboy’s forthcoming record, “Ithaca Regained,” which is set for release in Spring 2023. According to O’Rourke, the album is inspired by the tale of The Odyssey by Homer. Mental health is an arduous journey that, without the proper guidance, will leave you unmoored from your faculties. On “Lady Lucia,” O’Rourke gives a glimpse of what it is like to slip away from yourself, but cling to the remaining lifeline that will keep you tethered to reality.
Written by Travis Boyer