I go to a lot of live shows and have done so for decades. And this week I saw a performance that will stick with me for as long as I'm lucky enough to be around.
Lisa Hannigan is from Kilcloon, County Meath, Ireland. She writes great songs and sings like an angel. Her phrasing and vocal tone are impeccable. Hannigan's voice can soar or she can bring it down to a near whisper, always at just the right moment. I found myself leaning in, hanging on her every note.
Hannigan oozes kindness and sincerity. She's everything I love about Ireland rolled into one person - the music, mysticism, literature, magic, beauty, and the laugh. She plays multiple instruments, including in Portland this week, a beautifully crafted homemade ukulele that someone in Portland made and gave to her before the show. She does that to people - you hear her and you want to give her a gift because every time she opens her mouth to sing she gives you one.
Hannigan got her start in music as a member of Damien Rice's band before embarking on a solo career.
Her brand new and second CD Passenger was produced by WYMA favorite Joe Henry, and it certainly will be on my top 10 list at year end. Mr. Henry's production is, as always, tasteful and soulful, bringing out the absolute best in the songs. Here's "Knots" from Passenger:
Here's two delightful videos of older songs:
Hannigan closed the Portland show with a cover of "Personal Jesus". Once Johnny Cash takes a song, that's usually pretty much it and there's no point in another approach. But with all due respect to Mr. Cash, this version more than holds its own. When I think of this song from here forward, I'll hear this in my head:
Lisa Hannigan is on tour in the US now, dates below at her web page. Her band is terrific, various multi-instrumentalists there too, proper gents with ties and jackets. Do not miss Lisa Hannigan if she's coming your way. She's the real deal.
Lisa Hannigan Tour Info