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Live Gig Video: Lisa Hannigan and Luke Sital-Singh duet on ‘Prayer for the Dying’ for 7 Layers Sessions

By on Friday, 19th January 2018 at 4:00 pm

If someone were to ask me to name my “dream duet” vocal combination, singer/songwriters Lisa Hannigan and Luke Sital-Singh would surely be high on my list individually, but I’m not sure it would occur to me pair their voices together. Fortunately for all of us avid listeners, someone else did think of it, and the kind curators at 7 Layers have made the dream a reality. In the live video below, Hannigan and Sital-Singh harmonise on a stripped back acoustic guitar arrangement of Hannigan’s ‘Prayer for the Dying’, which appeared on her exquisite 2016 album ‘At Swim’. Read our review of the LP through here.

Filmed for 7 Layers Sessions by Johnny Marchetta, the spare, intimate quality of the imagery in this video reflects the deeply introspective beauty of the song’s sustained vocal melodies. But the true highlight of the performance is the way Hannigan and Sital-Singh blend their voices to stunning technical perfection in the simple yet emotionally evocative chorus. Sital-Singh’s new EP ‘Just a Song Before I Go’ is available now via Raygun Records. You can read TGTF’s past coverage of Luke Sital-Singh right back here. Our extensive previous coverage of Lisa Hannigan is collected through here.


Cambridge Folk Festival 2017 Roundup

By on Monday, 14th August 2017 at 2:00 pm

Header photo of Frank Turner from the BBC

Folk music is far more than just songs that take things back to basics and raw. Folk music is an idea of community and appreciating all that life has to offer, the good and the bad. The Cambridge Folk Festival has been one of the world’s premier destinations to celebrate this genre, and while it’s not quite got the pull of, say, Newport Folk Festival, it does far more than hold its own.

Spread out over 4 days in the picturesque little hideaway of Cherry Hinton in Cambridge, a place itself you should visit, this year’s event was a testament as to why it’s a staple. Although rain may have given a fair go at trying to dampen the folk spirit, it did very little in the long run. Especially with this year being specially curated by ex-Bellowhead frontman Jon Boden, a first for the festival, which also meant every act he’d chosen (six in total) were joined on stage by the man himself. A whole lot of Boden is never a bad thing.

While Thursday and Friday didn’t bring names that are familiar to the outer realms, those in the know experienced the beauty of folk and the festival. Irishwoman Lisa Hannigan, who closed out the Friday, managed to perfectly encapsulate what makes folk so special. The vulnerability with which her words are conveyed brings much more depth to the meaning you can find, and it makes it all the sweeter when the music matches perfectly. Elsewhere, the likes of Indigo Girls made a triumphant return, while newcomers Ward Thomas gave the younger audience their time to shine.

The real charm of the little festival lies in the atmosphere. Even stepping outside of the modest arena, you can find some form of ear-catching sounds in the smaller tents dotted throughout the camping areas. Impromptu performances and general niceties are rife, and it’s a pleasant sight to behold, especially when you’re more used to festivals filled with intoxicated revellers.

The day on Saturday suffered the most, with torrential downpours throughout. We can be sure that folk music would prefer to be associated with sunny, summer afternoons, but unfortunately, it was grey skies and unstoppable rain. For those who made it inside the tents, all was well. For those less fortunate, well, they had backup plans. A sea of umbrellas and chairs filled the site, while the sweet sounds of the likes of Fara, a Scottish four-piece who stick very close to the fiery roots / folk sounds of their homeland rang throughout.

Closing the Saturday night, Frank Turner returned to Cambridge once again, as a late replacement for Olivia Newton-John. And what a replacement he was. Turner is an artist who bridges so many genres that you find him at Cambridge Folk Festival, as well as festivals such as Download and Glastonbury. Barraging through his biggest hits, as well as a few under the radar numbers, the crowd were consistently engaged, even if a bit damp. Giving shoutout to fans who had hit their fiftieth show of his, you know Turner respects everybody in the crowd. Without them, he’d still be opening the Thursday of the festival instead of headlining the Saturday.

Sunday managed to stave off any more downpours. But of course, spirits were far from dampened. At lunchtime, Chris T-T brought the works of AA Milne to life with perfect execution, a lovely warming treat after the previous day’s torrents. Jake Isaac proved why he’s such a hot name in the genre. With a fresh songwriter sound and foot-stompingly powerful tracks, Isaac was a key draw throughout the weekend, packing out the Stage 2 tent.

Jake Bugg‘s acoustic set was an easy highlight and a triumphant return for the young songwriter. Joined by only a piano and guitar, his tracks found a new level of depth and feeling, matching with his storied words perfectly. The tracks that harness love felt more raw than ever, while those that talk of his life and growing up put more poignancy in the words. We were even treated to some new tracks from his forthcoming album ‘Hearts That Strain’, out the 1st of September on Virgin EMI, and they feel like a return to Bugg of old.

Finishing the festival off, Hayseed Dixie did what they do best. They brought a raucous and fun filled time with their bluegrass covers of absolutely everything you can think of, from Queen to AC/DC, and their own stuff in-between. Proving that the folk festival isn’t a pretentious gathering but a fun celebration, having Hayseed close out was an inspired move, one that paid off exceptionally.

As the grass returns to its natural state and Cherry Hinton empties, there’s already a level of excitement for next year’s installment. Returning with another guest curator, you’d be silly to miss out on such a special event. There’s a reason it’s been going since 1965, and if the rains of this year can’t dampen anyone’s spirits, nothing will.


RTÉ Choice Music Prize Awards Roundup

By on Tuesday, 28th March 2017 at 12:00 pm

Earlier this month, I headed out to The RTÉ Choice Prize Awards at the jam-packed Vicar Street in Dublin 8, south of the Liffey. Arriving early, we grabbed ourselves a pint of Guinness’ Hop House 13 and took our seats in anticipation of an exciting, music-filled evening. During the course of the night, we were treated to a range of live performances, as well as the announcement of the winner of both the RTÉ Choice Music Prize single and album of 2016.

The first act of the night was Wallis Bird, whose yellow-white hair glowed onstage like a beacon of light. Bird captivated the audience with her heartfelt a capella as she stood alone onstage during ‘Home’, the title track of the album for which she was nominated. On another track, she banged against a microphone and used a loop pedal to create a rhythmic and organic backdrop for her incredible lungs. It was a raw and vulnerable performance. In a post-performance interview, Bird recounted the significance of ‘Home’ and living in the house where she first met her girlfriend.


Next up was Bantum (Ruairi Lynch), nominated for his album ‘Move’, who I’d had the pleasure of seeing before at the Shortlist Sessions, but the last time I saw him he was alone onstage with his laptop and guitar. This time, he was joined onstage by the singers who feature on his tracks. The first track ‘Feel It Out’ featured Farah, and the second featured Loah and two backing singers on the song ‘Take It’. It made a huge difference with the singers being live, really fleshing out the music, and he looked like he was a lot more comfortable. After the performance, he discussed his love for funk sounds, and how the album was released completely independently.


We Cut Corners, who I’d also seen at the Shortlist event, took to the stage next and played a hugely varied set in terms of tempo and sound. Nominated for their album ‘The Cadence of Others’ the duo confidently took to the stage to perform their tracks ‘Middle Kids’ and ‘Of Whatever’. Considering their smart and wonderfully wordy lyrics, you’d never guess the pair are teachers. At one point, the two stood side by side at the microphone, singing a capella with a smoky, moody spotlight allowing their voices to carry over the crowd. Then, at other times, Conall Ó Breacháin was banging one handed against a drum kit with one hand whilst John Duignan was strumming away at his guitar.


Next to the stage was indie legends and former winner of the Choice Prize, The Divine Comedy. Neil Hannon,sat at a piano to perform some tracks from his latest effort ‘Foreverland’, Divine Comedy’s 11th studio album, reviewed by editor Mary back here. He and his live band kicked off their three-song set with ‘Catherine the Great’, before playing the witty and evocative ‘How Can You Leave Me On My Own?’ and drawing a number of laughs from the audience.


Following The Divine Comedy’s performance, the winner of the Song of the Year was announced. Unable to be there on the night, winners Picture This (winning for ‘Take My Hand’) had recorded a video accepting the award and thanking all who had voted from a studio in the States where they are recording their new album. You can listen to Carrie’s interview with Picture This in Austin after that recording experience here.

Lisa Hannigan then took to the stage. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t heard Hannigan sing live just how powerful, yet calming her voice is. Ethereal and waif-like, Hannigan seems to command the stage without really trying to draw attention. I’m trying not to sound like a super fan. Armed with a banjo on one track, and what I believe was a tabletop accordion on another, Hannigan’s album ‘At Swim’ (reviewed by Carrie here) was nominated for the Album of the Year, and she played a few tracks from the album, including the spooky and slow-marching ‘We, The Drowned’ and the folky ‘Undertow’.


The sixth act of the evening was the all-in-black Katie Kim, nominated for her third studio album ‘Salt’, whose morose, moody sound I fell in love with right away. Standing at first with her guitar, then moving onto a keyboard, Kim’s unusual and rich sound filled the room, and in particular her tracks ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Day is Coming which are the first two tracks on the album. ‘Salt’ is an emotive and powerful piece of work, and seems even more incredible when considering Kim is a solo artist.


A little different to Kim’s haunting melodies, eventual Album of the Year winners Rusangano Family (for ‘Let the Dead Bury the Dead’) virtually erupted into life and had the audience on their feet during their fast-paced set. The title track of their LP opens with the tolling of a funeral bell, before MCs God Knows and MuRli began to do what they excel at, capturing the crowd’s attention with their fast-paced and lyrical verses.


Rapping about Irish identity and asylum seekers, they engaged the crowd by dancing and jumping enthusiastically throughout the set, even joining the audience out on the floor, while DJ mynameisjOhn was at the decks. After just a few minutes of their performance, former TGTF contributor Tom turned to me and said, “I want these guys to win”.

RTE Choice Music Prize 2016 winners Rusangano Family

Then we had All Tvvins, the enigmatic indie pop duo Conor Adams and Lar Kaye, nominated for their album ‘IIVV’, which Adam reviewed back here. They started with the catchy ‘Thank You’, a track with a seriously addictive guitar hook. Up next they played ‘These 4 Words’, followed by ‘Darkest Ocean’, receiving huge cheers from the audience. Bouncing around the stage, the pair looked like they were having a great time.


The final act of the night was Overhead the Albatross, nominated for their album ‘Learning to Growl’. An instrumental-only act, live they have what seemed like 6 million guitars, a drum set and a violin. They finished up with a well-earned standing ovation and certainly deserve some real props for making instrumental-only music so interesting and feel so accessible. I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t tell you what tracks from their nominated album were played, but they were certainly impressive with a mixture of funky rhythms, moments of slower paced violin solos, and with an evident passion for the music that they were playing.

All in all, we had a pretty spectacular night. It was great to catch a glimpse of what the all too underrated Irish music scene has too offer. Perhaps underrated isn’t the best term, as the people that I’ve spoken to in my newly adopted home can’t help but rave about the music that is out there by Irish artists. This is music too often under the radar in terms of the global picture aside from the occasional artist that will break through: Hozier jumps to mind here.

I can definitely say that I’m excited to see what’s in store for the future of Irish music, particularly now that I’m able to access more of it living on Irish soil. If the eclectic and talented mixture of music that I heard at Vicar Street is any indication of the variety of music there, then I’ve got high hopes for the music that I’m going to be discovering over the coming months (maybe even years) now that I’m rooted here in Dublin.


Album Review: Lisa Hannigan – At Swim

By on Wednesday, 17th August 2016 at 12:00 pm

Lisa Hannigan At Swim coverIt’s telling, I think, that the cover of Irish singer/songwriter Lisa Hannigan’s third album ‘At Swim’ is the first to display a photo of the artist herself. The album art for her 2008 debut ‘Sea Sew’ exhibited a homespun collection of hand-sewn buttons, while her 2011 sophomore album ‘Passenger’ featured handmade artwork representing the twinkling lights of the cities in which it was written. The music on those albums was as quaint and quirky as the visual art suggested, experimentally folky and charming in its way, but at times a bit tentative, even apologetic for its own presence.

‘At Swim’ is is immediately more confident and self-assured than its two predecessors, its songs simpler in structure and lyrically more concise. The chorus to first single ‘Prayer for the Dying’ consists of four simple words, “your heart . . . my heart”, but the clear tone and mild dissonance of its backing harmonies linger longingly in the mind. Similarly, it’s Hannigan’s vocal delivery rather than the words themselves that makes the refrain of gently rocking piano ballad ‘Ora’ so heartbreakingly memorable, as she pleads “I’m going home . . . won’t you come with me?”


This lyrical streamlining has naturally allowed more focus and stylistic expansion on the musical side of things. Produced by Aaron Dessner of The National, ’At Swim’ takes on a distinctly darker, more dramatic tone than either of Lisa Hannigan’s first two albums. From the sparse acoustic flavour of album opener ‘Fall’ and the beautifully unadorned vocal harmonies of ‘Anahorish’, to the classical piano accompaniment of ‘We, the Drowned’ and the full, sweeping orchestral arrangement of the aforementioned ‘Prayer for the Dying’, Dessner’s touch is definitively felt but never overpowering to the exquisite fragility of Hannigan’s songwriting.

Hannigan’s signature breathy vocals are as soft and delicate as ever on ‘At Swim’, but her execution is notably sharper and cleaner. There are gorgeous melismatic moments in nearly every song, and Hannigan completes the vocal gymnastics with impressive grace and fluidity. She often takes her vocal melodies in surprising directions, but rather than aimless wandering, these diversions feel more like scenic detours through carefully constructed harmonic landscapes. The melodies themselves and the vocal harmonies behind them are so entrancing that I found myself singing along on first listen, despite the fact that I didn’t yet know the words.

‘At Swim’ is a mature and thoughfully developed album that feels like the ultimate alignment of Lisa Hannigan’s creative talent and emotional expressivity. Written during a period of personal tumult, its themes center around sadness and self-doubt. But without question, this is an album Hannigan has always been capable of making. It was only a matter of time before she herself realised it. Now it seems that her shining moment has well and truly come.


Lisa Hannigan’s third album ‘At Swim’ is due out on this Friday, the 19th of August, on PIAS (UK) and ATO Records (North America). Hannigan will follow the release with a run of UK live shows this October. In the interim, you can find TGTF’s full previous coverage of Lisa Hannigan right back here.


Lisa Hannigan / October 2016 UK Tour

By on Wednesday, 6th July 2016 at 9:00 am

Irish singer/songwriter Lisa Hannigan will follow the release of her new album ‘At Swim’ with an October tour of the UK, as well as a list of European live dates later in the autumn. ‘At Swim’ is due out on the 19th of August and will include the delicately beautiful lead track ‘Prayer for the Dying’, which we recently featured right back here.

Tickets for the following live dates are available now. TGTF’s extensive previous coverage on Lisa Hannigan, dating all the way back to 2009, is collected here.

Thursday 13th October 2016 – Cardiff Tramshed
Friday 14th October 2016 – Brighton Old Market
Sunday 16th October 2016 – Oxford Academy 2
Monday 17th October 2016 – Bristol Thekla
Wednesday 19th October 2016 – Glasgow Oran Mor
Thursday 20th October 2016 – Salford St. Philip’s Church
Friday 21st October 2016 – Liverpool Arts Club
Saturday 22nd October 2016 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Monday 24th October 2016 – London Islington Assembly Hall
Tuesday 25th October 2016 – Birmingham Glee Club
Wednesday 26th October 2016 – Leicester Academy 2


Single Review: Lisa Hannigan – Prayer for the Dying

By on Thursday, 16th June 2016 at 1:00 pm

Veteran Irish songstress Lisa Hannigan has just previewed her upcoming new album ‘At Swim’ with the release of the album’s first single, a haunting, elegant track called ‘Prayer for the Dying’. If this first sample is any indication of the full record, ‘At Swim’ will see Hannigan moving definitively away from the quaint and folksy DIY quality of her previous two albums, 2008’s ‘Sea Sew’ and 2011’s ‘Passenger’.

The lush instrumental backdrop of rich, round piano tones, wailing slide guitar and gently rocking percussion in ‘Prayer for the Dying’ might be a bit unexpected from Hannigan. But it is perhaps less so from her producer on ‘At Swim’, The National’s guitarist Aaron Dessner. For her own part, Hannigan’s vocals on here feel much more self-assured here than they have in the past. She has done away with her previous timid whisper, singing this powerful lament in a delicate but resonant full-voiced tone. Her deftly executed half-tone slurs in the verse melody and the echoing refrain “your heart / my heart” immediately bring to mind the vocal strength and emotional impact of Patsy Cline.

Speaking of the full album ‘At Swim’, Hannigan says it its press release that it’s “in part about homesickness and isolation as well as about love.” She wrote it while living away from home, without her “usual anchors and points of reference” to use as a guide, which perhaps was the inspiration for the album’s title. Guidance came for her in the form of producer Dessner, who helped her record the album in upstate New York. “He didn’t want it to sound too pretty,” Hannigan says. “He wanted it to have a texture rather than have big arcing melodies.” In ‘Prayer for the Dying’, the pair have achieved elements of both.


Lisa Hannigan’s third album ‘At Swim’ is due for release on the 19th of August via PIAS in the UK and ATO Records in North America. Hannigan is currently playing a run of live dates in Ireland; you can find details here. TGTF’s previous coverage of Lisa Hannigan can be found by clicking here.



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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

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