Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sea Sew Sunday

"... you don't know if I can draw at all
or what records I am into
if I sleep like a spoon or rarely at all
or maybe you would do? maybe you would do..."
I spent the day today in the company of a splishy, splashy, twirly, mellow, gentle, plinky, plonky, plunky, lyrical album that I've become very partial to. I think it will become an integral part of my soundtrack for the rest of the year.

It would be nice to think that Lisa Hannigan may see the reviews of her first album, Sea Sew, some day. I'd like her to think of this particular blogger grooving in the kitchen today, elbows deep in sudsy water as I sing along to her words, swaying and sliding to the lyrics, lost in my own revelry, immersed in the melody of harmonium, the cello, the upright bass and guitar.

It provided an enchanting escape from the mundane tasks I was completing and sent the musical part of my brain into hyperdrive, while my feet moved along to their own pattern, part waltz, part glide, part just tapping along. I'm glad I was alone.

I also love the album sleeve itself. Printed on paper the little touches are personal and appropriate to the music, knitted as it was by her mother Frances, and stitched by Lisa herself.

Is it good? I think so. With 10 songs, nine written by herself, this provided a lovely soundtrack to a not-so-nice day. I recently saw her live and the album doesn't disappoint in capturing the unique sound of a group of musicians who, you can almost tell, have an intimate knowledge of their instruments and what would suit each song, as well as having fun doing so.

I don't know - the track I quote above - is my favourite so far, its upbeat percussion and violin and cello sounds working with the trumpet and glockenspiel (I think it is) to give something to at the very least click your fingers along to. The lyrics are just wonderful - among the happiest I've read or heard in quite a while.

There's also songs like Venn diagram, Teeth and Courting Blues that seem to be deeply personal, the lyrics emerging like waking memories - the type that surface in conversations with friends. Splishy Splashy, dedicated to Mic Christopher, is a lovely creation, and if its a tribute, you'd imagine he must be smiling.

It's the simplicity of the lyrics, secondary to the sound of her voice, a beautiful instrument in harmony with the others that makes each line special - something as simple as "a note, penned clumsily in this century's type-ruined hand, saying gone down to the shops for a walk" somehow seems like we're reading her diary, a sentimental insight into this young woman's life, and it's almost a privilege to be allowed do so.

When we were buying the album, the surprisingly helpful young man in HMV Blanchardstown said, unprompted, to us "It's really good actually. I've had it on here today. It's not like Rice at all. It's much happier." and he's right. In fact the comparison is unfair, despite the association - this album is pretty unique, and completely hers. Whereas Rice's lyrics seem pain racked, harsh and emotionally raw, this is more an album to feel good with.

I don't mean it's happy clappy music, I mean it's glass of red wine, book and possibly a candle music. It's slip away from the crowds and sit in the park on a sunny day listening to it music. It's ignore the crowds on the bus or the dart and just look out the window, probably moving in time to the beat and smiling despite yourself, blissfully unaware of the people around you who look on, envious you're lost in your own little world kind of music.

It's an album that will stay on my iPod for a long while. If you see me in town at some café, smiling despite the queue, the weather and the service, tapping along to whatever's playing in my earphones, it'll be a safe bet to guess what I'm listening to.

The album is out now and can be bought through her website on The full track listing is Ocean and a rock | Venn diagram | Sea song | Splishy splashy | I don't know | Keep it all | Courting blues | Pistachio | Teeth | Lille and the song lyrics to some are included in the album sleeve, or all available on her site.

Sea Sew would make a great gift but I think you'll want to keep it for yourself. If you get it, please do let us know what you think.


  1. I went in to Tower to buy this on Saturday at 4.45 and as I was handing over my money, a guy behind me asked if Lisa was playing at 5. I had no clue this was happening so obviously stuck around and was treated to Lisa right there in front of me, playing these beautiful little gems of songs. Time stopped.

    Best album I've got in a long long time.

    That evening, it was my soundtrack to cupcake making. Appropriate I think. It's a happy sun shiney Saturday type thing.

  2. Its a great album - a few of the melodies sound a little Ting Ting-ish but there's no harm in that.

  3. Her performance on the Late Late Show last Friday was special indeed. A beautiful voice, cracking song (Lille) and lovely instrumentation. Inspirational.

  4. Yes, Lise is a pure and original inspiration. This is a very nice post about the great Sea Sew!

  5. I love it to pieces. I want to skip, throw a yo yo, dance a jig, touch the sky, and put it under my pillow all at the same time.

    Thinking of all the friends I will gift this little gem for the holidays.

    Lisa & her band on Sea Sew leave me wanting more...bravo.