Brigid Mae Power: Head Above Water (Fire/Southbound)

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We Weren't Sure
Brigid Mae Power: Head Above Water (Fire/Southbound)

Elsewhere is well-known for approaching English and Irish folk music with some caution if not outright suspicion.

The lamentations, murder and miserablism, references to medievalism, “fair maiden” and “kind sir” lyrics . . . . that is rarely for these ears.

But of course there are a more contemporary stylists – like ol' Bill Fay or the drone-folk of Lankum – who have seduced us recently.

Irish folkie Brigid Mae Power cleaves to some very traditional elements in her singing style and songs (the courting, wannabe bigamist Blacksmith here is a very old song).

But to this she brings something of the 21stcentury: Wearing Red That Eve is a slow narrative of men in New York shouting rude things at her in her red dress “to the knee”, and how she confronted them in a way which surprised and frightened her. Then it flips into more poetic thoughts.

Musically she and her bandmates embrace organ and pedal steel (Wedding of a Friend) alongside fiddle and bohdran (discreetly deployed), mandolin and electric guitars.

But it is her often strangely soaring yet droning singing style which nudges this into a more folkadelic realm, and her wordless vocals which can sound almost Indian in their delivery and microtones. Or full of some indefinable yearning, as on the gloriously engrossing I Was Named After You which eases into pure slowcore psychedelia with flute towards the end of its six minutes.

She can pull you in to a strange dreamworld (the aural mystery of Not Yours to Own which seems deliberately free of construction and direction) where references to a slo-folk Mazzy Star or Julee Cruise in a Mogadon haze would not be amiss.

Maybe over its 45 minutes it errs too much towards a similar, downbeat mood and the vocalisations are played out too often (We Weren't Sure).

southboundshoplogoBut at its dreamy best and in discrete sampling this lives up to the title of one of its songs: You Have a Quiet Power.

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You can hear this album at Spotify hereIt is also be available through Southbound Records here



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