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Lisa Hannigan

Born 12 February 1981, Kilcloon (raised Dunshaughlin), County Meath in Ireland, most people into nu-folk music will recall her days as vocal spar to DAMIEN RICE. From her days as his regular side-kick at the Temple Bar in Dublin and at the Glastonbury Festival in 2003, multi-instrumentalist HANNIGAN proved her dexterity on the troubadour’s ground-breaking sets `O’ and `9’. Whether it was her work moonlighting with the pseudonymous Daisy Okell Quartet or a rare solo outing at the 2006 Electric Picnic Festival in Stradbally, County Laois, that prompted RICE to fire her the following March, no one has yet found out; they’d gelled so well together that both guested on HERBIE HANCOCK’s 2005 multi-collaborative album, `Possibilities’.
Anyway, it couldn’t have worked out better as Lisa’s star was started to ascend after the release of her solo debut, SEA SEW (2008) {*8}, a record hailed one of Ireland’s best albums of the year and a subsequent nomination for the Mercury Prize. A surprise chart-breaker at No.58, the set was described in journals as “charmingly idiosyncratic” and “exquisitely ethereal”; her best cuts coming through `Venn Diagram’, `Lille’, the rockier `Keep It All’, `Ocean And A Rock’ and a violin version of BERT JANSCH’s `Courting Blues’. Tours supporting Jason Mraz and DAVID GRAY and appearances on the Jay Leno and Stephen Colbert TV shows over in America, boosted her CV no end.
2011’s PASSENGER {*8} saw her compared with VASHTI BUNYAN, MELANIE and LAURA VEIRS; sullen and solemn songs such as `Little Bird’, `O Sleep’ and the lilting `Paper House’ were up there with the best. Consolidating her into the eyes and ears of North America where she’d signed to A.T.O., Lisa’s Appalachian motifs were apparent on the title track, while she could also get all MORISSETTE on `Home’ and `Knots’.
Proving that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and untying her from a bout of writer’s block, AT SWIM (2016) {*8} produced her best UK chart showing so far at No.24 – it goes without saying that she again topped the Irish lists. A Sunday morning set to wake up and smell the flowers from the garden, the haunting, hushed harmonies of HANNIGAN – augmented by her co-producer Aaron Dessner (from The NATIONAL) – there is peace, there is love and a mystical Irish air to mostly every song she attempts. `Prayer For The Dying’, `Fall’ and `Lo’, utilise her vocal range to the max, whilst one can almost taste the heartbreak on the `We, The Drowned’, `Funeral Suit’, `Barton’ and the a cappella Seamus Heaney poem, `Anahorish’.
© MC Strong 2011/GFD // rev-up MCS Aug2016

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