Even though At Swim it’s still a good album, something has changed in Lisa Hannigan’s approach. Or we may say, it looks like she chose (among the many kind of styles she’s been experimenting since her solo debut in 2008) her way. The previous experiences of Sea Sew and Passenger were similarly a list of emotional tracks like “Nowhere to Go”, “Ocean and a Rock”, “Safe Travels Don’t Die”. But, aside, she has always given us a taste of folky-happines through songs like “Knots”, “What I’ll Do” or “ I Don’t Know”. In some other cases she threw us in spooky musical landscapes such as those described in “I Keep It All”.
That’s what seems to be missing now in At Swim: diversity. From “Fall” to “Barton”, 2016 Hannigan’s album is a collection of emotional, slow, profound folk songs.
Developed in collaboration with Aaron Dessner from The National, At Swim misses the surprise factor that Sea Sew and Passenger seemed to have.
Quite interesting. Why? Because this has not to be seen has a bad side. As I pointed out, this time Hannigan may have chose her way, the kind of style that better suits her vocal talent.
“Prayer For The Dying”, “Ora” or “Funeral Suits”, they all represent a good exercise for the voice of ex Damien Rice’s collaborator.
This is a good LP for pure folk songwriting lovers. But this sadlike trajectory, these deeply reflective lyrics, this black and white art cover, where Lisa only sketches a little hiding smile, keep the times of joyful songs such as those described before, far away.
Whether this is just a moment in Hannigan’s production or the choice for a definitive way of producing her own music, At Swim is an album which definitely shows us what this girl is able to do.
Sometimes comparable to Lamb’s Lou Rhodes (take for instance “Barton”), Lisa Hannigan leave us with a conviction: she hasn’t given us everything she could. Not yet.