Album review: AOIFE O’DONOVAN – Fossils

AOIFE O'DONOVAN - Fossils

Yep Roc [Release date 24.06.13]

Aoife (pronounced Ee-fuh)’s debut solo album at the age of 30 is already making something of a splash on the other side of the pond.  With a wealth of experience already under her belt as the lead singer and principal songwriter/song-finder of ‘alternative’ bluegrass band Crooked Still, she’s also made something of an impression within the industry leading to collaborations with the likes of Alison Krauss who included a cover of Fossil’s opening track ‘Lay My Burden Down’ on her 2011 album Paper Airplane.

But Fossils, produced by Martine Tucker (The Decemberists / My Morning Jacket) with her band — Robin MacMillan on drums, Jacob Silver on bass, Ryan Scott on guitar, and Charlie Rose on pedal steel, and featuring guest artists including Sam Amidon and Dave Douglas, isn’t a bluegrass record.  Yes, it’s ‘folky’, but it bears many of the hallmarks of the Susanne Vega / Sheryl; Crow generation of singer songwriters.

Rootsy, but crossover in style, it’s an album that creeps up on you with Ooife’s beguiling vocals signalling a beautifully crafted record that includes some of the best singer / songwriter material you’re likely to hear this year.  In particular, ‘Red & White & Blue & Gold’ (the current single) is a wonderful summer song with a hook that will strike a chord far beyond the land of the stars and stripes.

In contrast, ‘Beekeeper’, is another timeless piece of Americana whose construction and squalling electric guitar evokes cherished memories of Neil Young circa After The Goldrush / Harvest.

A record that unfolds with repeated plays, Fossils may have been over a decade in gestation, but it’s been well worth the wait and could well signal the arrival of a major new name on mainstream playlists.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley





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