Ailbhe Reddy has been working toward Personal History her entire career, and it is that journey, both personal and musical, that paints itself across the songwriter’s debut offering. An album that works on and out of emotion, Reddy’s metamorphosis since TLMT first reviewed her early work is both striking and wholly satisfying.
Opening with a buzz of distorted guitar, Ailbhe Reddy signals her own sea-change in sound on the jangled indie-pop of ‘Failing’. Making a statement on how her music has grown since the folk-influenced days of Hollowed Out Sea E.P, this strong contrast texturally still leaves room for Reddy’s distinctive vocal harmonies. It sets the scene for Personal History’s central premise, Reddy’s introspective reflections of who she is now and who she was before.
Unrestrained honesty is the current that pushes Personal History into captivating territory. Lines like “I hate it when we fight. But you made me feel stupid” from ‘Between Your Teeth’, and “See you looking happy. On my telephone screen” on ‘Looking Happy’, expose raw nerves and show Ailbhe Reddy’s willingness to hold nothing back lyrically. Indeed, its the songwriter’s ability to convey these heart-wrenching moments with succinct turns of phrase.
‘Time Difference’ is where the sea meets the shore. A culmination of the sonic intricacies and lyrical weight of Personal History, the jangled guitars, lush harmonies and Reddy’s emotionally dynamic vocal (a core element of the record itself) meld within a song that encapsulates the relationship between in the words and the music. Especially towards the closing lines “Phone calls are never enough. I miss your touch. The distance between us“.
And so it goes, Personal History is Ailbhe Reddy. The journey is now a place, and Reddy’s debut takes all that was and informs the present with what is. Through bare-boned songwriting, rich sonic production and a central performance that conveys the emotion behind it all, Ailbhe Reddy could not have given us more.