Review of Passenger Album by Lisa Hannigan

From the very start, Irish singer songwriter Lisa Hannigan's second album Passenger instantly sets out to impress. The introduction of opening track 'Home' sounds a string orchestra flanked piano, guitar and drum blend over which a gentle, warm and mellow singular brass part, perhaps a flugelhorn, is suggested. Hannigan's vocals, hauntingly delicate and smooth flow beautifully and effortlessly from chest voice to whisper over the gently lilting accompaniment beneath them; an accompaniment that steadily builds and builds throughout the track; perfectly formed.

A sparse accompaniment of percussion and bass line sounds beneath Hannigan's vocal throughout the first verse of 'A Sail' before the blend is padded out slightly by the inclusion of the rest of the band and a delicate high-pitched solo violin line. There's also a subtle suggestion of banjo in the mix maintaining Hannigan's folk roots. 'Knots' follows; a picked guitar accompanied bluesy number punctuated by picked double bass and flavoured by slushy string glissandi until around a minute in when the track really begins to stomp in the likes of the vein of KT Tunstall. This album, Passenger, particularly in its miniature orchestral arrangements, really shows a great ambition and flexibility to Hannigan's songwriting and vocal ability and further establishes her as the talented artist that she is.

Lisa Hannigan Passenger Album

'What'll I Do' starts with a sparse rhythmic accompaniment over which Hannigan's vocals swoop around in a catchy soulful country blues vein. The accompaniment remains constant and rhythmic throughout the track until its closing section, which of course really allows the vocal line to sing clear. Contrasting as a delicate lullaby-like duet, 'O Sleep' sounds the outstanding vocals of Ray LaMontagne alongside the smooth, gently whispered vocal tone of Hannigan herself; a duet which harks back to her the earlier part of her career working alongside Damien Rice. This lazy lullaby track is warmed by gentle suggestions of piano and a singular string line, rich with vibrato.

Like much of the album, 'Paper House' echoes the likes of Feist; heartfelt and beautiful music led by a stunningly distinctive vocal and flanked by sensitive accompaniment, whilst the beautiful vocal melancholy accompanied by delicately picked acoustic guitar in 'Little Bird' offers us yet another personality to Hannigan's writing. From its' opening tone right through to its' closing chord, the utmost attention to detail is paid throughout the whole album; a superb offering.

Hannah Spencer

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