Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan has just released her third solo effort At Swim,.
I remember being happy to find a stream to Hannigan’s 2011 album Passenger. Now five years later we’ve finally been graced with that beautiful record’s follow-up — and boy, was it worth the wait.
On At Swim (out now via ATO Records), Hannigan’s vocals are both as haunting and beautiful as you’ll remember. This album feels like a perfect companion for a solo contemplative road trip and it’s also easy to drown in its beautiful melodies in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
On first listen, it seems Lisa Hannigan has gone to a mostly back-to-basics approach with her new record. Most of the songs have a focus on the piano rather than the assortment of odd instruments you’d find on nearly every track from her first two records. That isn’t to say you won’t find some exquisite layers on this one — such as the beautiful mandolin that comes on the chorus of “Undertow.”
The new record was also produced by The National‘s Aaron Dessner. Dessner is no stranger to working with artists whose strength is writing beautiful but sad prose. He worked on acclaimed Brooklyn singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten’s 2012 release Tramp. That record was a real step forward for the singer. Hannigan and Dessner have performed together in the U.S. a handful of times — at fests Boston Calling and just recently Eaux Claires. Watch a live performance of new song “We, The Drowned” at a recent performance below.
Though Hannigan burst on the scene as a collaborator of Damien Rice’s, she’s put together an impressive catalog of her own work in the time since a tumultuous end came to their working together. Despite this, it’s hard not to notice how Hannigan’s new record takes on a mostly somber tone, similar to the usual work of Rice.
“The album title is about the feeling I had, that I was sort of adrift,” Hannigan said in an interview with The Independent. “I had moved out of the house I lived in for 10 years here in Dublin – my flatmate was getting married – and, then, when I came back from tour, I didn’t know where to go. I went to Paris and here and down the country and then London – I didn’t feel at home anywhere and that fed into that slightly uneasy feeling which in turn fed into the songs.”
It’s an easy to relate to feeling for a lot of people — feeling out of place in a new city, out in the deep waters without a life vest.
Photo courtesy of Rich Gilligan
Stream Lisa Hannigan’s new album At Swim below, via Spotify: