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Review | “Choosing not to become a prisoner of the past, lyrically and sonically” Ailbhe Reddy – Endless Affair

The Last Mixed Tape reviews Endless Affair, the new album by Ailbhe Reddy.

Photo credit: Niamh Barry

Ailbhe Reddy opens Endless Affair with the line, “tell me how did I get here? Some endless pitiful affair”, a sentiment as striking as it is thematically apt. Three years on from her retrospective debut Personal History, Reddy’s sophomore offering finds the artist choosing not to become a prisoner of the past, lyrically and sonically. 

Beginning with the aforementioned lyric, ‘Shitshow’ also serves to establish the wider canvas of colors Reddy’s textures her music with. In terms of performance and sound, the song has a bite to it. Fuzzed guitars rumble beneath a vocal that moves from soaring to snarled. This internal dynamic continues in the restless energy of ‘A Mess’ and resonates throughout Endless Affair.

This sonic polarization plays into the theme of growth contorted by lessons learned. ‘Bloom’, a gently portrayed affair, rests itself on lines like, “wonder how you’re doing now. We were so restless then and it all felt tragic. But I guess that we all have to learn.” It’s not easy for an artist to be so raw, and Ailbhe Reddy’s ability to write to-the-bone lyrics and wrap them in equally depthful music is key to Endless Affair. Add to this the biting introspection of ‘Last to Leave’, “God, you’re on form tonight. Finish your pint. Make a meal of it. You act so pretentious”, and the delivery of the meaning is felt throughout.

‘Shoulder Blades’ is where Endless Affair reaches its zenith, the point in which the growth of Ailbhe Reddy’s songwriting is most apparent. Conveying the intricate attention to detail found in romance and the twist the tail where things can slowly fall apart. Subtly written and performed, ‘Shoulder Blades’ makes full use of the colors created throughout Endless Affair, highlighting the verité nature of Reddy’s songwriting.

And so it goes, the art of letting go through the prism of the past. Ailbhe Reddy’s Endless Affair takes the introspective and retrospective arcs of her work to-date and turns them on their head, instead looking beyond. Musically the album is a departure too, edged with angular more rugged textures. The journey to no longer becoming a prisoner of one’s past is difficult, paved with mistakes, in Endless Affair Ailbhe Reddy faces these miles of bad road and takes them anyway.

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