Lisa Hannigan sparked rumours of a new album when she announced her Irish tour in Ireland for this summer. The album has surfaced along with an extended tour of Europe and Ireland up until Christmas and into early January.

I find it hard to believe there are people who don’t like Lisa Hannigan so I’ll leave the superlatives to a minimum. “At Swim” released August 19th has all the good bits. But instead of being able to say Hannigan is a folk singer, or that you will definitely find a banjo on her record she has gone out of her way to surprise us. Using the 11 tracks at her disposable she does indeed inhabit her familiar folk territory while unashamedly indulging in new arenas. “Prayer For The Dying” is a torch song that takes us to cafes and lounges dimly lit and atmospheric. Single “Lo” enjoys dawdling in the darker aspect of Hannigan’s psyche. Anahorish is sung accapella but filled out with layered harmony. And on closing track “Barton” we get a sense of Electronica seeping into Hannigan’s sensibility.

Delving into topics of love, anxiety and heartbreak Hannigan’s vocal is emotive veering from haunting, ethereal and defiant. On “At Swim” there is a sense of her moving forward from the past. Confidently progressing from threading water, to front stroke and maybe even climbing onto dry land to walk her own path. Fragile and delicate may have been adjectives used to describe Hannigan in the past but I feel she is now inhabiting her own space, taking control and exploring the horizon.

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