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Review | Lisa Hannigan – At Swim

At Swim album cover
Lisa Hannigan (photo by Rich Gillen)

The Last Mixed Tape reviews At Swim, the third studio album from singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan.

Timeless, is a term often thrown around without much thought or consideration for its true meaning. However, Lisa Hannigan’s At Swim is just that. Hannigan’s first solo album in five years, At Swim travels further down the darkened indie-folk road that began with her 2011 sophomore release Passenger. Indeed, the past half-decade finds the songwriter having developed beyond all expectation.

At Swim feels like an album suspended by texture and lost in longing. The music rests still, Hannigan’s voice is solitary and isolated in the expansive soundscape it occupies. Songs like ‘We, the Drowned’ and ‘Tender’ feel sorrowful while ‘Lo’ mirrors the same emotional turbulence with great swells of rhythm. Proving once again that Lisa Hannigan has always been an artist who won’t write unless there’s something to be said.

On At Swim Hannigan has something to sing, and knows just how to portray it. The album’s production and pin-drop performances ebb and flow with the twisting vocal storytelling seen in ‘Funeral Suit’ or ‘Fall’. Nothing’s rushed, every word is giving its own time to be heard. And “being heard” when you feel lost is what At Swim is all about.

It would be easy to say that At Swim is Lisa Hannigan’s best work, it certainly feels that way. But rather than an isolated piece, it seems Hannigan’s entire solo career is entwined. There could be no At Swim without Passenger, and no Passenger without Sea Sew. So in this way Hannigan’s latest offering is yet another compelling instalment in what is becoming one large canvas.

This is what sets At Swim and its creator apart from the rest of the tide. The music is so in touch with itself that it sounds like a beast of its own making. The album defies definition because there nothing to compare it to outside of Hannigan’s own back catalog, and that’s what makes it truly timeless.

Rating: 10/10

At Swim by Lisa Hannigan is due for release is due for release on August 19th.

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