|Lisa Hannigan — At Swim (August 19, 2016)|
Lisa Hannigan — At Swim (August 19, 2016) √ Irish vocalist makes blessings of her pain with the help of the National’s Aaron Dessner.Location: Dublin, Ireland
Album release: August 19, 2016
Record Label: ATO Records (AT0)
01 Fall 3:00
02 Prayer for the Dying 4:35
03 Snow 3:39
04 Lo 3:54
05 Undertow 3:24
06 Ora 2:50
07 We, the Drowned 4:00
08 Anahorish 1:51
09 Tender 3:58
10 Funeral Suit 4:01
11 Barton 4:27
√ Lisa Hannigan / Joe Henry 1
√ Lisa Hannigan 2, 3, 7, 9, 10
√ Aaron Dessner / Lisa Hannigan 4, 6
√ Iain Archer / Lisa Hannigan 5
√ Lisa Hannigan / Seamus Heaney 8
√ Aaron Dessner / Lisa Hannigan 11
√ Lisa Hannigan,
√ Gavin Glass,
√ Shane Fitzsimons,
√ Ross Turner,
√ Donagh Molloy,
√ Lucy Wilkins
√ Zoe Randell vocals
√ Katie Fallon vocals © → Photo credit Paul Penton
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger; Score: ****
√ The third studio long–player from the Irish singer/ songwriter, the aptly named At Swim is a beguiling collection of aqueous and often elegiac indie folk ballads that seep syrup–slow into your bones, inducing both goosebumps and a teeth–chattering chill. Despite being written after a severe bout of wanderlust and writer’s block that saw Hannigan globe–trotting for inspiration, the ten–track set is her most galvanized offering to date; a languid river of song that transcends its myriad watery metaphors via an adjacent undercurrent of morbidity and existential angst that suggests a real sea change. Produced with terrific restraint by the National’s Aaron Dessner, At Swim is awash in plucky banjo, ethereal strings, offbeat percussion, and isolated, heavenly piano motifs that drop down into the drink like a kingfisher collecting its quarry. As per usual, it’s Hannigan’s otherworldly voice that provides the anchor, effortlessly shifting from smoky lows to crystalline highs like a precision sports car on a twisty mountain test drive.
√ Standouts like the torchy “Prayer for the Dying,” which pairs vintage Patsy Cline production with a brooding melody that comes off like a mash–up of “What a Wonderful World” and Radiohead’s “Creep,” the bucolic “Ora,” and the softly propulsive, Kate Bush–esque “Undertow,” utilize Hannigan’s gifts for both range and economical poetry — never one to bloviate, she has the Irish knack for distilling the vastness of misery, heartache, and shame into tidy couplets such as “Oh we the wrong, we the sewed up and long gone, were we fallen all along.” However, that emerald touch can also transmute despair into comfort, which is ultimately what makes At Swim such a compelling listen. This is an album to listen to in front of a crackling fire, with a very strong drink, at the end of a very arduous day. √ http://www.allmusic.com/ © → Photo credit: Paul Penton
BY JANINE SCHAULTS ON AUGUST 18, 2016, 6:00AM / SCORE: B
→ They say a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. That axiom easily sums up Lisa Hannigan’s early career. Without the drama of her former professional (and personal) partner Damien Rice splitting with her on tour somewhere between soundcheck and the start of a gig, the gifted singer may never have taken the leap toward releasing her own solo work.
→ 2008’s enchanting Sea Sew thrust the shy Irish lass into the well–deserved spotlight. Instead of playing second fiddle to Rice’s volatile stage presence, Hannigan emerged as a striking performer that could leave a room breathless and charm the pants off Stephen Colbert. Hypnotizing in every way, a friend once ranked a 2009 concert of hers in a venue fit for 300 people on a frigid night in Chicago alongside Radiohead’s seminal 2001 conquering of the city’s Grant Park. 2011’s Passenger followed with a set of lilting compositions brimming with hard–won maturity, including a hushed duet with Ray LaMontagne. And then the songs stopped.
→ Hannigan didn’t disappear entirely. She toured extensively, lent her pipes to the magical Oscar–nominated film “Song of the Sea”, co–hosted a witty podcast called Soundings with Irish broadcaster Dylan Haskins, and contributed a haunting version of the Irish classic “Danny Boy” for a pivotal scene in the FX drama Fargo. Yet a severe case of writer’s block spurred on by homesickness over leaving Dublin for London marooned the 35–year–old. Rescue finally arrived in the form of a fortuitous email from The National’s Aaron Dessner. Hannigan says she still isn’t privy to why the New York–based producer and multi–instrumentalist reached out to offer his assistance and guidance, but she gladly accepted.
→ The pair carried out a transatlantic correspondence — exchanging lines and bits of music like messages in a bottle — before convening in Hudson, New York to record the 11 tracks that make up At Swim. The album’s austere beauty owes much to Dessner’s gentle production, which ebbs and flows around Hannigan’s pristine vocals. Whether the singer dips into a husky register or soars high enough to clip an angel’s wings, the result is like those dancing fairies in Fantasia who just merely graze the ice with their toes before a dazzling lattice pattern explodes onto the frozen surface.
→ At Swim leaves behind the whimsy of Hannigan’s previous releases like a girl packs away bubbly letters unsent to crushes. Long saddled with the mildly insulting twee tag, Hannigan pulverizes the notion she’s merely a doe–eyed, ukulele–strumming sitcom character, especially on the swaying “Fall”, with its stark opening line: “Hold your horses, hold your tongue/ Hang the rich but spare the young.” The song titles alone reveal her dreary state of mind as she navigated the isolation and loneliness accompanying moving away from home. The smoldering “We, the Drowned” details how self–sabotage comes easy when feeling overwhelmed. Its plunking piano and subtle, booming drum act as anchors dragging a body down while Hannigan’s siren call serves as a gleaming buoy. The lush “Prayer For the Dying” is awash in slide guitar and layered vocals that could weld the cracks in the most damaged heart.
→ The songstress often allows the gymnastic turns of her voice to mask her impactful lyrics, which stands as a minor complaint. Yet she’s clear as a bell on a pure a cappella reading of the Seamus Heaney poem “Anahorish”.
→ The rest of album is like a day at the beach, albeit a drizzly one in need of a good scarf. Dessner’s skill lies in sustaining this hazy, gray feeling without letting the songs sound drab. Hannigan radiates enough joy — even in the darkest moments — to keep the affair from being a downer. Notably, the love songs also bear the weight of her reclusion. “Undertow” twitches and gurgles in time to a steady banjo as the galloping “Snow” finds Hannigan “sunk like treasure” alongside the object of her affection. Again, Hannigan’s habit of turning her shipwrecks into blessings pays off.
→ Essential Tracks: “We, the Drowned”, “Prayer For the Dying”
→ http://consequenceofsound.net/ © → Lisa Hannigan, Féte de la musique, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris 2015 live ©
By Pablo Gorondi | AP August 18
→ Lisa Hannigan fills “At Swim,” her third, stirring album with graceful melodies, reflective lyrics and a world of watery references.
→ Hannigan and producer Aaron Dessner (of The National) use a wealth of harmonies — usually her own multi–tracked vocals — and an arsenal of mostly acoustic accompaniment to build a captivating listen whose restraint adds to its allure.
→ Harbors, seas, currents and springs, as well as swimming, drowning and deep treasures populate the tunes, all chiseled by the influences of Hannigan’s Dublin home, a relationship–related move to London and the recording sessions in an upstate New York studio in a large converted church.
→ “Prayer for the Dying” is a bit of country in Cowboy Junkies mode; “Anahorish” is an acapella rendition of lyrics from the late Irish Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney with stellar vocal help from Zoe Randell and Katie Fallon; and “Undertow” adds a touch of banjo to a richly rhythmic refrain.
→ Near the end, the autobiographical “Funeral Suit” paints a budding romance while integrating many of the themes from the rest of the album — resettlement and death, love and hopeful discovery.
→ No matter the depth of the dive, Hannigan remembers fellow Irishman Bob Geldof’s adage and masters the fine art of surfacing.
→ With kindness permition. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
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|Lisa Hannigan — At Swim (August 19, 2016)|