Lisa Hannigan is an Irish singer/songwriter who is most recognized for her work in conjunction with Damien Rice. She accompanied him on lead vocals—as on on his 2002 debut album, O—gaining much of her experience over six years spent touring and collaborating alongside him. Her time took toll, and allowed her to gain enough praise to set out on her own for a solo career.
Her debut album, Sea Sew—released in February of this year here in the U.S.—has seen much support from her fan base, carrying the biggest impact natively overseas.
I came out to witness Hannigan's first outing as a solo artist, at The Citi Performing Arts Center (formerly the Wang Center) in Boston. Hannigan is in support of David Gray, and it would seem that both artists have much to bestow on this tour, with Hannigan promoting Sea Sew and Gray touring behind his new album, Draw the Line. Which would be his first studio album in four years, having not had much critical success since White Ladder (1998). It would be best to say that the pair have a pretty hot torch to carry throughout this worldwide tour.
As soon as Lisa Hannigan’s performance was underway, though, I felt it—this certain dryness filled my critical thoughts. I wanted so badly to enjoy her, but it all came up rather short.
She is talented in her own right to be sure, yet nothing was different about her. The word I have to use to describe would be 'typical’. The typical opening act performing to top, but without receiving much faith back from the audience. It's a case in which the audience is so heavily concentrated on the headlining act that it's almost impossible to sit still for the one before.
Her instrumentals were amazing, truly. Her talent does not just show in her ability to sing, but I would say mainly through her musicianship. She masters many instruments, holding an incredible rhythm all the while.
However, I have to turn my thumbs down overall. As much as I would love to praise Lisa Hannigan with the highest of honors, there is something about her music that does not speak to me as deeply as I would like it to.
Her music makes me feel like I'm sitting out on Grandma's back porch in a fuzzy knit-wool sweater. Except it's itchy—and it’s July. There is a certain weight heeded much throughout her music that cannot be overlooked. But in that same direction it is left soft, with a texture comparable to that of tapioca pudding. You can either be a strong musician or you can be a weak one. You can’t mix elements of both in between your music and expect to come out teetering to the powerful side.
I was left feeling almost helpless; I sat there trying to pour all of my emotion into what she was giving out to the audience, but my senses just wouldn’t budge. I don’t want to sound too demoralizing, but maybe she should have toured with someone not as great—David Gray is one of the most amazingly talented and poignant acts I have seen this year—so as to leave a little of the stage lights for her.
It seems to me she was doing her best to underwhelm the audience, which is quite a pity. I don’t see that she has all it takes to stand on her own as a solo artist. And so, every emotion remaining under my skin once Hannigan exited the stage—and as Gray approached it—soon disintegrated into dust. It just didn’t matter anymore.