Review: Lisa Hannigan, ‘Sea Sew’

Lisa Hannigan, ‘Sea Sew’: Aidin Vaziri | It’s the question that follows Damien Rice everywhere he goes: “Where’s Lisa?” On the soul-searching Irish singer’s breakthrough 2003 album, “O,” and its follow-up, “9,” released two years ago, Lisa Hannigan’s fragile voice served as the sweet, even-tempered foil to his bitterly tortured wailing. The official reason for the duo’s split was that their creative relationship had run its course, but you suspect there was always something deeper at work. Together, each songwriter sounded positively unearthly, their voices and temperaments swirling together in search of emotional catharsis. On the songs he recorded without her, Rice sounds a little more pedestrian. In turn, on her first solo album, Hannigan has lost the drama and despair that made her voice sound like a ray of sunshine cutting through it. In fact, songs such as “Keep It All” and “Lille” are unashamedly pretty, adorned with swooning strings, twinkling glockenspiels and gently plucked acoustic guitars. There are tender choruses and clever lyrics, but the floating tunes are unlikely to connect with the people who came to her looking for the same spellbinding melodies she spun out with Rice. Although, Hannigan does occasionally come close, particularly on the hushed “Splishy Splashy,” a song so gorgeous that it should provide her former employer plenty of angst for his next project.

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