She may have lost the Mercury Prize to a Sarf Landener who don’t get emotional but perhaps quite ironically Lisa Hannigan has created a debut solo album that is ethereally soft and floaty and packed to the rafters with the stuff.
Lovers of this ‘token folkie’ (as the NME so tenderly referred to her Mercury nomination news) have been aware of her presence since her early incarnation as Damien Rice’s right-hand woman. Whilst she never took centre stage it was Hannigan and her delicate voice that would balance out Rice’s hand-wringing middle-aged angst and add a sprinkle of joy to the proceedings. In 2007, after a long and fractious relationship, Rice informed Hannigan that she was no longer needed in the band, which proved to give her the fresh start she needed and is an incident that she has since referred to as the best thing that has happened to her.
From its hand-stitched cover to the songs within Sea Sew is an inviting and homespun record where, Hannigan’s personal favourite, Lille languidly drifts along on a sea of glockenspiel and dreamy vocals while I Don’t Know is a trumpet accompanied toe-tapping lament to the wonder and excitement of new relationships. But whilst this record firmly plants its folk roots into your subconscious tracks like Sea Song and I Keep It All are perfectly placed to give it some depth and range as they pick up the pace and bounce along with pounding drums and lilting vocals.
There is no doubt that Sea Sew is exactly what Hannigan needed to propel her out of Rice’s shadow and now, finally, the spotlight is allowed to shine solely on her. It’s about time.
Words: Nikki Dodds