Hailing from Naas, County Kildare, Sive is a songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist and on her second album The Roaring Girl she certainly highlights all of the above. Aided and abetted by a cast of musicians such as Patrick Hopkins (drums), Mark Dudley (electric guitar), Eoin Hartwieg (bass), Neil Doyle, Cathy McEvoy, Rachel Du & Denise Doyle (violins), Niamh Roche (viola), Mary Barnecutt (cello) and Judith Font (keys), Sive still manages to play acoustic guitar, piano, bass, kalimba, mandolin, melodica, chime bars & percussion and, of course, sing.
The album opens with a swell of strings which opens up to a voice that is both full of depth and originality. On ‘Turn Down the Silence’ the drums pushes forward the melody and the delivery of both vocals and music is assured and playful (you can even detect a note or two of jazzy rhythm, never a bad thing). ‘Swallow Me’ has a piano motif that skips and weaves in the most delightful way. ‘Wingless Bird’ is a beautiful love song where the singer asks her lover to ‘kiss me until your beard turns my chin red’. The use of the vocal harmony that underpins the song adds a human quality in the production that brings the listener deeper into the sonic landscape. ‘The Water’ has a classic folk quality reminiscent of such greats as Sandy Denny and Joni Mitchell. The band are in fine form laying down a groove that wouldn’t be out of place on Led Zeppelin III. It is a rare thing to find yourself writing about a kalimba but ‘If I Had a Home to Go To’ makes judicious use of the very instrument. Sive’s vocal line is, at one point, Eastern European flavoured but also puts you in the frame of mind of a song that wouldn’t be lost in one of those classical musical movies. ‘Giraffe (By The Shore)’ keeps things moving along nicely.
However, ‘Shoot the Stars’ is a standout track full of mood and movement. It must be tiring for any female musician that plays a piano to be compared to both Kate Bush and Tori Amos but in this instance the comparison is justified as the musicianship is off the highest standard. There is a suitably epic feel here and it continues into ‘Maude’ (all Gallic charm), ‘Humans’ (darkness could be my friend if it wasn’t for the humans) and ‘You Are Only Your Own’ (reverb heavy guitar, the odd waltz beat and that warm production that sounds like the singer is in your ear). ‘When you come down for me’ is a gothic (eighteenth century era) lament with the dark lyric of “when you come down for me I’ll be ready”. Viola and cello provide the drama on this affecting song. The Roaring Girl ends on a gentle note with ‘Hoverfly’, a traditional-sounding song that rounds off the whole.
This is an album that deserves to be heard and if there is any justice in the world it will be.