High-res version

One of the better sets at the Edmonton Folk Festival saw Rose Cousins, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dar Williams and Lisa Hannigan, all on stage at the same time.  Exceptionally fine songwriter/singers every one.  But in hearing them trade off songs, it was clear that Lisa Hannigan has the singular kind of talent that comes along very rarely.  Her songs stretch the envelope and her voice isn’t just good; it burns a hole in your heart.  Hannigan’s previous album ‘Passenger’ was instantly likeable with witty lyrics, like “Safe Travels, Don’t Die” and infectious melodies.  The new record ‘At Swim’ is more demanding.  It’s a collaboration with Aaron Dessner of ‘the National’, so there’s the same minimalist, layered approach we see in that band’s music.  Similar approach, but not the same music at all.  The album doesn’t clobber you over the head, but the serene, layered approach wears well with repeated listens.  I’ll have one song today, and add another tomorrow.  This one features Lisa Hannigan performing ‘Prayer for the Dying’.