When I first heard Lisa Hannigan, I was watching the incredibly hilarious Colbert Report. As the episode was nearing it’s end a delightfully adorable Irish lady in a red dress presented herself on stage to charm the audience with her enchanting vocals. To my enjoyment she belted out an unbelievable performance of the song “I Don‘t Know.” I enjoyed it enough to go buy the album the next day. Little did I know, I had been listening to Lisa Hannigan for some time without realizing it. In 2001, Lisa Hannigan began singing with Damien Rice (fellow Irish singer - and just as musically brilliant) and continued to do so for six years before parting ways.
Lisa Hannigan’s 2008 debut album (in Ireland, 2009 in US), Sea Sew, starts off with an overtly bass-y thump, followed by the mellow, melodic beauty that is Lisa Hannigan’s voice. The song is “Ocean And A Rock” and it bellows out of my iPod as I write this article. In the song - apparently about love and what one does in the absence of their lover - Lisa describes one of the ways she gets through the day when she is away from her lover: “…I spoon you into my coffee cup, spin you through a delicate wash I wear you all day...” The song mentioned above is charming and fun, whereas in the song “Teeth” her lyrics are sad, her vocals bewitching and the music captivating: “…I had a swing when my salt was my own I'd my teeth bared for battle till love lost made me dull…” When I play this song a powerful aura surrounds me and I have to turn it up as loud as possible and sit quietly as I let the song embrace me in it’s eloquent melancholy. The song sends me through so many emotions, and in it’s sadness it makes me feel good.
Born February 12, 1981, in Kilcoon, County Meath, Ireland. Her first experience singing was at the age of six as a fairy on top of a Christmas tree for her school’s play. Growing up, thanks to her mom, she listened to Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone and Michael Jackson among others - which helped her to hone in on her vocal talent.
Among her many musical accomplishments as well as sewing the cover, liner notes and lyrics of her album, Lisa Hannigan started her own theatre company dubbed “The Cowardly Lion Theatre Group” and writes a blog (although it hasn‘t been updated in almost a year). She was also a part of The Cake Sale - a collective of musicians who came together for a 9 track CD collaboration where all proceeds go to Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign. This past month she put out two small releases: Lille a four track Ep and Live At Fingerprints featuring six live tracks from Sea Sew.
Along with Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan is also musically associated with such artists as Herbie Hancock, Jason Mraz, Gary Lightbody (Snowpatrol), and Mick Flannery as well as others. She is noted as playing the guitar, banjo, piano, thumb piano, tambourine, melodica and bass guitar as well as vocals and harmonics. She’s currently on tour in Ireland, so if you’re in her area you should definitely take in one of her shows, and then tell me about it.