Friday 24 January 2020

Daring take on life after loss

John Meagher

John Meagher

laura sheeran

What the World Knows

(Flaming June Records)

HHHHI

The Galway singer and multi-instrumentalist came to the attention last year with a stark, minimal album (Lust of Pig and the Fresh Blood) that set her apart from her peers. She also contributed the standout track to the excellent all-female compilation record Cafe Irlandaise, which was released at the start of 2012.

Now, she truly shows what she's capable of with a new collection that, while hardly an easy listen, rewards those willing to give it lots of love and patience.

This is an album that's imbued with a palpable sense of darkness, melancholia and paranoia and whose sparse, but beautiful songs display a meticulous attention to detail.

The death of Sheeran's mother last year after a long battle with cancer, plus the trials and tribulations of family life since, have set the tone on this challenging album, but she is not the sort of songwriter who offers prosaic reflections on loss. Her songs display a lightness of touch that's remarkable.

Production is courtesy of Sheeran's fiance, Marc Aubele, who is best known for his work on the Ruby Sessions as well as Bell X1 touring duties. The Englishman respects the material and makes no attempt to buff its edges.

What emerges is a sound midway between the claustrophobic despair of PJ Harvey's White Chalk and the daring, pared-back inventiveness of Fever Ray.

Laura happens to be Ed Sheeran's first cousin, but please don't hold that against her.

Key tracks Lonesome Soldier; Death of a Star; Forever Love

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