Secret Meeting score: 78
by Phil Scarisbrick
As well as her own critically acclaimed records, Lisa Hannigan has shown a proclivity for exciting collaborations over the years. From her early forays as part of Damien Rice’s band, right through to her work on The National’s latest album I Am Easy To Find, she has brought a unique flavour to the music she takes part in. After initially meeting s t a r g a z e conductor – Andre De Ridder – at a festival in Cork in 2015, they performed together at last year’s PEOPLE Festival in Berlin. While most of the collaborations at that event were one-offs, Hannigan and s t a r g a z e decided to take theirs on the road. Now, we get to hear the result with the new record, Live In Dublin.
Taking songs from Hannigan’s back catalogue of ethereal Irish folk – as well as new song, Bookmark, the fresh arrangements give a whole new life to the originals. Hannigan has always had a knack of making you feel like she is singing just for you. Despite the much grander sound, she has lost none of this intimacy; you just feel the emotional impact more acutely.
Having worked with a host of artists ranging from Julia Holter to Nils Frahm, s t a r g a z e have become adept at taking the bare bones of a song using their many instruments to create something magical. Here it is no different. From the opening notes of Ora, the combination of Hannigan’s voice and orchestra felt they’d always been destined to collide.
The fourteen-track record not only documents some of Hannigan’s best songs for the uninitiated, but makes those more au fait with her work want to dive right back into her catalogue to hear the music with added context. The cinematic scale of these productions are a world away from the hushed finger-picked backing we’re used to, but just as stunning. At times, it can feel a bit drawn out, but just when you feel your attention drifting there will be a moment of magic to pull you right back in. For those of us who never got to experience the performance for ourselves, this is a worthy substitute.