LISA HANNIGAN: New Faces 09

The best moments on Damien Rice’s albums came not from Rice, but rather back-up singer Lisa Hannigan. Traditionally secondary female singers for male folk artists are little more than ear candy, tasked only with lending a girlish, twee aesthetic to the songs, but Hannigan took on the prominent role of a duet partner, and though requisitely supple, her voice brought genuine, worldly depth to Rice’s songs.











The best moments on Damien Rice’s albums came not from Rice, but rather back-up singer Lisa Hannigan. Traditionally secondary female singers for male folk artists are little more than ear candy, tasked only with lending a girlish, twee aesthetic to the songs, but Hannigan took on the prominent role of a duet partner, and though requisitely supple, her voice brought genuine, worldly depth to Rice’s songs.

For reasons that neither party has confirmed (but that don’t require too much imagination to speculate about), Rice booted Hannigan from his band in 2007, sending her off with a cold, curiously formal online posting: “After much thought and discussion Damien has decided that his professional relationship with Lisa Hannigan has run its creative course. As a result Lisa will not be appearing at any of the upcoming live shows.”

It’s his loss. Critics were always more enamored with Rice’s cozy sound than his actual songs, and Hannigan was a defining component of that sound. Released late last year abroad and this February in the States, Hannigan’s debut album, Sea Sew, for which she hand sewed the cover art and wrote all but one of the songs, finds the rising 27-year-old Irish singer/songwriter better off for the schism, commanding a set of string-kissed folk-pop with the poise of a jazz singer and the vulnerability of a poet.



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