Head Above The Water is the third album from folk singer / songwriter Brigid Mae Power. She recorded the album in Scotland with regular collaborator Peter Broderick and acclaimed Scottish alt-folkie Alasdair Roberts. If you’ve not heard anything by her before, you need to get on board. She has been likened, in terms of arrangement and performance, to greats such as Judee Sill and Bill Callahan.
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The third album from Galway based songwriter Brigid Mae Power is equal parts folk and country, often skilfully marrying both styles together. There’s always something bubbling away in the background on ‘Head Above The Water’, as chiming pedal guitars, subtle chord strokes and light drum brushes provide scenery without ringing brash or grand.
‘Head Above The Water’ is a smartly structured song-cycle, with each track sounding markedly different from the next. Brigid employs a range of troupes from her favourite genres and songwriters in each, with alt. country, chamber folk, country rock and traditional folk cropping up at various moments. Power’s voice adorns a light Americana infliction, without going full on cowboy. ‘I Was Named After You’ impresses with its slow accumulation of hand-percussion and woodwind leading to free-flowing jazzy folk, ‘We Weren't Sure’ sees fingerpicked guitars falling over fumbling rhythms and sporadic double bass fills, ‘I Had to Keep My Circle Small’ grips with its emotive melancholy, and the title track leaves a powerful final note with its channelling of the sparse piano moments of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’.
Power’s ‘aah’ and ‘ooh’ cooing is wistful at first, but as she embellishes too many songs with it, it gets tiresome, especially with repeated listens. With instrumentation and production as quality sounding as on show here, it would be nice to hear them ring clear for a further moment. It’s a minor criticism of course and they don’t dampen the album markedly.
‘Head Above The Water’ is full of smart songwriting, instrumentation, lyrics and production, complete with a wide-ranging appeal to fans of all sorts of singer-songwriters, folk and country music.
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