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Softly does it on album number two from county Meath songbird.
Olaf Tyaransen, 26 Sep 2011
Passenger? Given that she’s been solo for the last four years, the beautiful Lisa Margaret Hannigan has chosen an interesting title for this eagerly-awaited sophomore album. First heard on Damien Rice’s debut O in 2002, the Meath-born singer spent a good half-decade travelling aboard his musical train before having her carriage unceremoniously unhitched one fateful night in Munich in 2007, when Rice fired her from his band (something he has since publicly regretted).
In many ways, Rice did her a major favour. No longer a passenger, Hannigan has been sailing her own ship ever since. Most successfully, too, it must be said. Her 2008 debut album Sea Sew – rehearsed in a freezing barn in the Irish countryside before being recorded in under a fortnight at a friend’s home studio – didn’t sell anything like O, but it still went double platinum, was nominated for the Choice Music Prize at home and the Mercury Prize in the UK, and saw Hannigan play bewitching guest spots everywhere from Later... With Jools Holland to The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
For all the album’s success, however, it was still obviously the work of a woman who’d had her confidence knocked and was somewhat unsure of her talent. It was also surprisingly soft. Given the way things had ended with Rice, nobody would have been surprised if she’d released the equivalent of PJ Harvey’s Raw or Rid Of Me. But then, Hannigan ain’t that type of gal...
“Sea Sew was the most honest record I could make at the time that I made it,” she recently remarked, “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.”
She certainly comes across as confident on Passenger (and why wouldn’t she with a voice so beautiful?), but it’s not an especially happy record. Nor is it a particularly diverse one. For the most part, with just a couple of exceptions (‘Knots’, ‘What’ll I Do’), these songs are melancholic ballads or soft, gentle, folk numbers. Produced by Joe Henry (Elvis Costello, Ani DiFranco, Loudon Wainwright III) and recorded in just a week in Bryn Derwyn studio, Wales, its overall sound is quiet, contemplative and emotional.