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LISA HANNIGAN Sea Sew (2008)

Lisa Hannigan

The acclaimed Irish singer Lisa Hannigan has been responsible gilding the lily and providing some of the highlights on recent Damien Rice albums and live shows - delivering some stunning supporting vocal performances. And at home, where Sea Sew is has been steadily accumulating awards since its release in September 2008, she's already a big star.

The album's also beginning to find favour Stateside, where the New York Times have described it as 'exquisitely ethereal'. And its welcome across the pond is perhaps no surprise. Artists like Sarah McLachlan have a much wider appreciation there and Sea Sew fits neatly into that genre.

Lisa came away from her seven year stint with Damien Rice with a notebook of songs and a desire and confidence to put her own album together. With a bunch of friends including Tom Osander (drums and xylophone), Shane Fitzsimons (double bass) and Donagh Molloy (trumpet, melodica and glockenspiel) it was recorded over 14 days at Dublin's Cauldron Studios and mixed in London.

It's a gentle and calming album - beautifully played and recorded, with Lisa's breathy vocals well up in the mix and some lovely violin and cello from Lucy Wilkins and Vyvienne Long, and piano from Gavin Glass providing the icing on the cake. While perhaps naturally filed under 'folk', Sea Sew is difficult to pigeon hole. It's more accessible than some of Rice's work and manages to have a more contemporary crossover feel, in the much the same way that say, Cowboy Junkies work often did.

That said, Sea Sew is an album that needs repeated listens to get the most out of it. And those who persevere will be rewarded with a 'proper' singer songwriter album that will almost certainly be widely regarded as one of the best albums of 2009.


Review by Pete Whalley

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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