After playing for a decade with the American progressive bluegrass band Crooked Still, Aoife O'Donovan records her first solo album and sets her sights on the big-league concert circuit. She has all the right credentials. She sounds cool, breathy and relaxed whether she is singing thoughtful ballads or country-rockers, and is an impressive writer, with gently mournful songs that at times are reminiscent of Joni Mitchell. Alison Krauss recorded O'Donovan's song Lay My Burden Down on her Paper Airplane album, and Aoife's own version opens this set, now dressed up with layers of pedal steel and clonking guitars. The production work by the celebrated Tucker Martine is sometimes too lush, but there are some fine songs here, from the mournful Briar Rose, a bleak reworking of the Sleeping Beauty story, to the sturdy country song Oh, Mama. She is surely the next Americana celebrity.
Robin Denselow is a journalist and broadcaster who specialises in music and politics. He is the author of When The Music's Over, a history of political pop