Aoife O'Donovan, Mark Erelli | SPACE | Folk & Country | Chicago Reader
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Aoife O'Donovan

Aoife O'Donovan

Joanna Chattman

Aoife O'Donovan, Mark Erelli Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard All Ages

When: Fri., April 1, 8 p.m. 2016
Price: $17.50-$30
With her complex second solo album, In the Magic Hour (Yep Roc), conservatory-trained singer Aoife O’Donovan consolidates her strengths. Similar to her strong 2013 debut, Fossils, the record is rooted in a kind of rootsy folk-pop, and it freely dips into a variety of specific traditions, like the bluegrass from her old band Crooked Still or the Irish folk that lives in her blood. The Bostonian’s lyrics were largely composed in the wake of her Irish grandfather’s death at 93, and she doesn’t sugarcoat subjects like loneliness, mortality, or flight, but the peerless production of Tucker Martine and the richly textured arrangements—performed by an all-star cast that includes Chris Thile, Sarah Jarosz, and Eyvind Kang—help it all go down smoothly (as does her clarion voice, which manages to sound ethereal without floating away). One of O’Donovan’s numerous songs using bird imagery, opener “Stanley Park” confronts debilitating sadness, while a take on the traditional Irish song “Donal Og”—which incorporates the voice of her grandfather—rhapsodizes a life of misery within a shimmering, haunting drone that features elaborate overdubbed vocals. Rarely has devastation sounded so beautiful.
— Peter Margasak
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