Lisa Hannigan: Sea Sew

She rose to prominence as a member of Damien Rice’s band and she’s out touring with Jason Mraz right now, but don’t hold either of those things against Lisa Hannigan – her solo debut, Sea Sew, is far better than her most high-profile associations might lead you to expect. To be certain, Rice fans will find a lot to love here; many of the songs are built on the same delicate acoustic framework that caused such a swoon over O and, to a lesser extent, 9. But where Rice rarely seems interested in much besides plumbing the emotional depths, Hannigan provides a gentler, more tuneful gateway into the world of Nick Drake fetishists – and has the good sense to surround her songs with warmer, more colorful arrangements. The music is fine, but the real star of the show is Hannigan’s voice, which purrs and flutters across Sea Sew’s 10 tracks, lending a coiled sensuality to what could easily have been just another collection of introspective ballads for moody twentysomethings. Hannigan’s presence even lends weight to trifles like “Splishy Splashy,” and keeps the dirge-y stuff (“Courting Blues”) from taking itself too seriously – and when she hits on all cylinders, as on the ethereal, gently driving “I Don’t Know,” it’s awfully difficult not to get caught up in all the hype that’s surrounded her for the last few years. There’s a glut of this type of stuff right now, but Sea Sew proves that, when it’s done right, it can still pack a punch. An extremely polite punch, but still. (ATO 2009)

Lisa Hannigan MySpace page


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