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She Moves In Mysterious Ways
At just 30 years of age, Lisa Hannigan has gone from being Damien Rice’s sidekick to establishing herself as one of the most important new artists in contemporary Irish music. With the release of her second album, Passenger, she is set to take the world by storm. But behind the natural beauty is a remarkable woman who is beginning to reveal the depth of her mysteries…
Olaf Tyaransen, 19 Oct 2011
“That little sidestep into the middle of the stage was a massive distance in reality, and when I realised that I wasn’t afraid of that anymore, that was a big moment. It’s such a nice feeling! Once you get to that point you can really enjoy it, then you can play. But if you’re gripping on by your fingernails then it’s hard. I don’t know how many of the initial gigs I enjoyed, thoroughly, because I was so bloody fraught.”
It helps, of course, that the new album is so good. While she remains fond of her debut, she knows that she’s made a giant leap forward as a songwriter with Passenger.
“Sea Sew was the most honest record I could make at the time,” she admits, “but I look at it today and there’s a certain sense of wanting to appear happy and confident. I wanted it to seem as though nothing bothered me. On this record I made an effort to be brutally honest with myself and I don’t know whether people will listen and realise that. But for me this record is much more honest.”
Sea Sew was recorded and produced in just a fortnight. Incredibly, Passenger was recorded in half that time. Keen to capture as live a sound as possible, she and her band, together with American producer Joe Henry (who counts Elvis Costello, Ani DiFranco, Solomon Burke and Loudon Wainwright III amongst his previous clients), shacked up in Bryn Derwyn studios in Wales and made the record in just seven days. Add a day of strings and horns in London and that was basically it.
“I just don’t have the patience for the two-year recording process,” she says. “People don’t really do that anymore anyway because the money isn’t there, but I just could not be bothered to sit in a room and listen to somebody hit a snare drum 45 times.”
Presumably you’d done a lot of rehearsals and prep before going into studio?
“Well no, we sort of demoed things and we spent a lot of time arranging the record as a band and then I would send those demos to Joe, but intriguingly we didn’t really talk about the sound of the record at all. I suppose there was a trust between us that was unspoken. It was only the night before I went over that I thought, ‘this could really be quite an expensive mistake’.”