Lisa Hannigan 

Sea Sew (ATO)

I always recalled the edges of Lisa Hannigan’s voice on songs she recorded with the Frames, and remembered straining to hear her better when I caught her touring with fellow Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice for his first album, O. I wondered whether she was more than a vocal scene-stealer, and how good she could be if she truly ventured out on her own. Sea Sew is Hannigan’s long-awaited debut, and it’s a playfully confident first outing: sad when it needs to be, humble and, occasionally, triumphant. The ten tender songs she wrote bring out the best in her husky honey-tones and mysteriously accented lilt, and the way she smilingly bites back her words is often just as compelling as the whimsical little melodies she sings. “I feed your words through my buttonholes, I pin them to my fingerless gloves, they’re green and prone to fray,” Hannigan croons to her long-distance love on “Ocean and a Rock.” The rest of Sea Sew bows down to this track’s passion, but Hannigan is still standing, and she’s certain to come back for more.

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