Album Review: Aoife O’Donovan, ‘In the Magic Hour’

by Elena See, FolkAlley.com

Aoife O'Donovan In the Magic Hour.jpg

Solitude – it’s a powerful force. For some, it’s the kiss of death, a fate to be feared. For others, it’s the preferred method of walking through life.

In her non-stop life of touring and talking, mingling and performing, solitude, for Aoife O’Donovan, is a rare and precious thing. And when she was able to find an unexpected day or two of solitude during the past couple of years, she felt grateful. Turns out, solitude was the key she needed to unlock the songs on her second solo album, In the Magic Hour.

With a voice that’s awesomely appealing in its contradictory nature – it’s gritty and determined and sweetly gentle at the same time – O’Donovan explores the connections between loneliness and ambition, gratitude and longing, sorrow and joy. From tip to tail, this recording from the now-defunct Crooked Still alum is mesmerizing.

Each of the 10 songs highlight O’Donovan’s many musical talents: the pitch-perfect sweetness of her voice shines through in a loving tribute to her late grandfather in the traditional “Donal Og” and in “Magpie”; she (again) proves her worth as a card-carrying wordsmith, inviting you to lean in and listen closely to every single word on the album’s opener, “Stanley Park” and in the title track, “Magic Hour”; she shares her dogged determination not to let life weigh her down in “Hornets,” and she demonstrates a perfect understanding of how to layer and balance voice and instruments on “Porch Light.”

Produced by Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Neko Case), O’Donovan invited lots of friends to join her on In the Magic Hour. Listen for contributions from Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, Chris Thile, Nate Query and many others.


In the Magic Hour is out now via Yep Roc Records and is available at iTunes and Amazon.com.

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