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Casey's 'Fear' as Universal as Fear Itself

Long-struggling Irish singer and newly minted Oscar winner Glen Hansard just cracked the Billboard Top 10, a heartwarming rise that's bound to provide more commercial opportunities for his peers back home. Like Hansard, Paddy Casey has gone platinum many times over in Ireland, but he hasn't had as many opportunities to find traction here: Amen (So Be It) received a major-label release in 2000 before becoming a find in 99-cent bins from coast to coast, and that's about it.

Addicted to Company was a massive hit in Casey's home country back in 2005, but it's only now getting the domestic release it deserves. Amazingly, its first single is even older than that: It's a peppier re-working of Amen (So Be It)'s "Fear," an earnest examination of the dangerous world Casey's daughter will inherit. "I pray my child lives happy and long," he sings. "I hope she never sings this song."

Casey may lay out a grim recitation of society's ills — pollution, disease, rape, drugs — but he wisely keeps hope at the forefront of the mix, rooting his fears in parental love and letting a whiz-bang arrangement bury the dark subject matter in bright strumming and zinging synths. Casey's parental fears remain as universal and timeless as parenthood itself, so if it takes eight years to get the message across, amen. So be it.

Paddy Casey will perform at this week's South by Southwest music festival. To read more of NPR Music's SXSW coverage, click here.

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Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)