A romance so drawn out that Kiera Knightly would fi t well into the movie version of it; Lisa Hannigan’s methodical path towards a debut album does, however, produce a notably happy ending. Comparisons with the man she played supposed muse to are inevitable but what Hannigan produces is some distance away from the work of Damien Rice: not necessarily better, but infi nitely more enjoyable.
Sea Sew is a record that begins and ends on playful, tender moments (-Ocean And A Rock’ and fi rst single -Lille’), while fi tting in some addictive tension and darkness in between. Just listen to the twisting Fiona Apple lunacy-lite of -Courting Blues’ for evidence: Hannigan’s is an instinctive voice, reacting to the intricacies of the twisting strings and piano lines surrounding her. A somewhat unsettling tune, it’s nonetheless the perfect centrepiece to an album that dives between sugary sweetness and echoed dramatics.
It’s not a diffi cult listen by any means, but it will take time to weigh up whether it works as a whole. While there are not necessarily peaks and troughs, it’s more a scattershot approach to track listing which may well stump some fi rst time out: this you suspect may be intended in order to never let the listener settle into a staunch opinion on what she’s trying to do here, as she consistently catches you off guard. Hannigan the songwriter is still feeling her way into things – she penned nine of the 10 tracks here – but there’s no need for sentimental brownie points for beginners: this is without doubt one of the debuts of the year.