Lisa Hannigan - 'At Swim'
A chance email from The National's guitarist Aaron Dessner proved key in untangling Lisa Hannigan's writer's block; the American musician eventually produced and co-wrote some of the Meath native's third album.
Dessner's experimental influence is palpable on the bare-boned, austere nature of songs like 'Ora', the glitchy beat of 'Barton' or the hymnal, beautiful a cappella rendering of 'Anahorish', a Seamus Heaney poem set to music. That's not to minimise Hannigan's own thumbprint, however, audible on swoonsome love song 'Funeral Suit' or on the mesmerising old-time country waltz of 'Prayer for the Dying' - both of them dark, but crucially not gloomy songs.
These are songs that all tie in to themes of feeling lost, adrift and attempting to find your place in the world, as Hannigan tussled with being essentially homeless between Dublin and London, grappling with a new relationship in the latter city, and struggling with the aforementioned writer's block.
At the end of one of the most trying periods of her career to date, however, she has emerged as a songwriter to be reckoned with. Write her off as 'twee' at your peril; this is Hannigan's most accomplished, versatile and interesting album to date.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 12:25 | Sunday 21st August 2016 | Album Review