Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan has just released ‘Bookmark’, a brand new single taken from her forthcoming album, ‘Live In Dublin’. A spellbinding collaboration with composer André de Ridder and his s t a r g a z e neo-classical orchestra, the project sees Lisa’s sparse, ethereal folk – now backed by strings, percussion and brass – transformed into something truly cinematic and evocative. Recorded when Hannigan and s t a r g a z e took their show to Dublin’s National Concert Hall, following stops at the Barbican and various European festivals, the live album will be released on May 31, 2019, with ‘Bookmark’ streaming here.
A previously unreleased cut from Hannigan, ‘Bookmark’ opens on a solitary droning note, the track slowly cascading into something not of this world. Hannigan’s restrained vocals are augmented by stark, minimalist arrangements, landing close to what the likes of Steve Reich and Terry Riley might pen if they turned their attention to luscious folk melodies. Hannigan explains: “‘Bookmark’ was one of those lost songs that I wrote for ‘At Swim’ that didn’t seem to fit with the rest of that record. I also never could figure out how to orchestrate it beyond my guitar part and it felt a bit stuck. Andre wrote an arrangement for it during the PEOPLE festival in Berlin and overnight it came to life.”
The discography-spanning Live In Dublin follows Hannigan’s critically-acclaimed third full-length, 2016’s ‘At Swim’ (produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner), and arrives in a fruitful musical career spanning 17 years and several award nominations: from the Mercury Prize to Ireland’s Choice Music Prize and Meteor Music Awards. Across it’s fourteen tracks – including the likes of ‘Ora’, ‘Lille’, ‘Fall’, ‘Little Bird’, ‘A Sail’ and ‘Undertow’ – Hannigan’s sublime vocals and soft-plucked guitars and mandolin are delivered against a hypnotic backdrop of waltzing keys, affective string sections and minimalist percussion. The result is something majestic in scope and ambition, and truly beguiling.
This meeting of minds captured on the album was the product of a chance-encounter at Cork’s Sounds From A Safe Harbour Festival in 2015. Both performing at the festival, it was there where Hannigan met André de Ridder and the conductor would discuss his work with his European orchestral collective named s t a r g a z e, who had been busy working with everyone from Nils Frahm and Julia Holter, to Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, These New Puritans and Iceage. The following summer, at Berlin’s PEOPLE Festival, s t a r g a z e would invite Hannigan to perform a couple of her songs with them on stage.
“Sometimes working with classically trained musicians can be slightly nerve-wracking as a singer songwriter because they speak a language so beautifully fluently that I can only fumble towards,” Hannigan recalls: “In a band, so much communication is done through the shoulders, the lift of an eyebrow, the feel of a small group breathing and dancing together. It’s hard to extrapolate that out into twenty, forty, even eighty people! It can feel like a glorious ocean liner tied to a creaking rowboat.”
Thankfully, Hannigan’s apprehensions would prove to be unfounded: “When we started to play though, it felt like all of s t a r g a z e had climbed aboard my rowboat. They approach a song very much as a band would, with an enthusiasm and musicality which immediately felt like home. I was overwhelmed to hear my songs in such a widescreen way, going from black and white to technicolour, and hoped we could do more.” And just like that, the idea of a live album was born: “The idea of eventually making a record and playing more together felt very natural and easy. Having made three records of my own I had a notion of making a live record but wanted to do it in a slightly more unusual way. We called on some wonderful arrangers over the following couple of years and built our setlist up one song and festival at a time.”
Live In Dublin by Lisa Hannigan and s t a r g a z e is due for release May 31st on digital platforms, vinyl and CD via Play It Again Sam.
PRE-ORDER OR LISTEN HERE
Prayer For The Dying
Nowhere To Go
We The Drowned