Anglo-Irish Acoustic Pop duo The Portraits, aka husband and wife songwriters Lorraine and Jeremy Millington from Galway and Bristol respectively, reached the iTunes chart in January 2015 with their charity single The Rest Of Time, championed by BBC Radio 2 and featuring the voices of 2000 people recorded across the UK during 2014 all singing to save lives lost to blood cancers. Married in 2005, they launched their new music outfit in the same year, releasing first album 'Kin' on their own label, Sensorypulse.
Fast forward to today, and 2019 saw The Portraits play at Glastonbury Festival for the sixth time, and complete work on their eighth studio album For Our Times, released 25th October 2019. The new album of songs was entirely created in the duo’s newly adopted hometown of Wells, Somerset, from conception to mastering, and drew on the talents of young musicians from the city's main secondary school. Songs from the record have been championed on BBC 6 Music by Tom Robinson, who has described the duo as ‘Irresistible and Irrepressible”.
‘For Our Times’ is an album of 13 songs about 2019, in particular the divisions in politics and fortune which echo through today’s world. The album cover and photography also came from local designer Andy Jennings and photographer Neil Juggins. Reviews have been very favourable, with Fatea Magazine referring to it as "Two beautiful people exuding warmth and kindness, while presenting us with a masterpiece. We all need more of this" and Dirk Scarlett on his music blog noting "This is a truly intelligent album. Bright & inviting but simultaneously complex and thought provoking. Some of the subject matter is intense, but the quality of the music that underpins it is always first class, usually anthemic in some way and always, always clever. 10/10 - cannot recommend highly enough."
Amongst the tracks are singles 'Harmonise', based around dozens of video selfies sent in by the duo's fans and community all calling for unity in a time of division, and the follow-up 'Except For Me', the heartbreaking story of a young woman sent to one of Ireland's Mother and Baby homes to have a baby out of wedlock, picking up the mantle from movies such as 'Philomena'.
In 2017, single 'Nobody Can Ever Murder Love' was the duo's instant reaction to the horror of Jo Cox's murder written on the day she was murdered in June 2016 and was played on Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio 2 in November 2016. Clare Balding loved the song so much she invited The Portraits to play and chat about the song live on 23rd April 2017. After the performance, Clare said "That is so beautiful. It is so powerful. And sitting here watching you do that together is a real privilege. And it's had a real impact. I just think it's the perfect tribute to Jo Cox and everything that she tried to achieve, and is still achieving because of what people do in her memory." A home-made live video of the song had been uploaded to The Portraits' Facebook the day after Jo's murder and received some 20,000 views practically overnight. The song was released at a time when the duo felt the UK needed to heal from the division caused by the vote to leave the European Union, and when they wrote it Lorraine and Jeremy hoped that their song would play a small part in the continuing fight against hatred as espoused so beautifully by Jo Cox.
In other areas, the duo have donated much of their proceeds from CD sales and concerts to a school in Burma/Myanmar, including the sum of £5,000 sterling raised through a mad dash by the duo around the UK in the early Autumn of 2016 armed with their songs about the country and a home-made Burmese curry which formed the basis of a series of highly memorable House Concerts. The Portraits earned several thousand dollars for the school in a subsequent House Concert tour of Canada and the USA in 2017. From Jeremy and Lorraine: "The charity we support is a fantastic school for disadvantaged children called 'Phaung Daw Oo School' in the Northern Burmese town of Mandalay. It is such an inspiration - with a backdrop of the last 50 years of political oppression, this school has scooped up thousands upon thousands of children orphaned by war and famine, and not only saved their lives by housing and feeding them, but against the odds has attempted to teach them the art of free thought, which in a brutal police/army state was one seriously dangerous and difficult task to achieve. The head, a fantastic Burmese monk (although I should say he rescues children of all religious backgrounds and there is no enforced religious indoctrination in the school) has put his own safety and financial stability at risk for two decades to guarantee these kids have a route out of their desperation and our Global Heartbeat album contains many songs inspired by him and this incredible nation of resilient, beautiful people who may now - WE HOPE - have a taste of the freedom they so badly deserve."