When singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan was a child, she would spend summers visiting her grandfather in the coastal Irish village of Clonakilty, swimming and singing with family. On January 22nd, O’Donovan will release her second album In the Magic Hour, which is steeped in those childhood memories and was recorded after her grandfather’s death.
The atmospheric songs from In the Magic Hour (which follows O’Donovan’s acclaimed 2013 debut Fossils) relay their narratives against gorgeous pastoral backdrops, like the sound of waves at night on “Magic Hour” or the romance of dusk on “Porch Light.” The sparse-but-intricate arrangements speak to O’Donovan’s conservatory training, but are delicately shaded with her pristine voice and smears of electric guitar or wisps of fiddle. O’Donovan recorded with Tucker Martine (the Decemberists) in Portland, Oregon, and recruited her sometime bandmates Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz to lend their considerable talents to the project.
The spirits of O’Donovan’s grandfather and her Irish heritage float through many of the songs, as with the titular creatures of the mortality meditation “Magpie.” On “Donal Óg,” the voice of O’Donovan’s grandfather emerges from the soothing drones of strings and guitars — slightly out of time and from some other world. It’s a stirring example of how those summers abroad shaped O’Donovan’s musical outlook.
O’Donovan will also headline a North American tour starting February 19th in Denver.
Here’s the track list for In the Magic Hour:
1. Stanley Park
2. Magic Hour
3. Porch Light
6. Donal Óg
7. The King of All Birds
8. Not The Leaving
9. Detour Sign