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Hannigan's voice was first heard in 2002, adding thrumming, soulful tones to Irish singer Damien Rice's massive-selling debut O.
In “Lo”, a song about insomnia, the passage of dread to delirium is deftly suggested by Dessner’s cyclical guitar figure and the rapid heartbeat of bodhran, while “We, The Drowned” is suspended between Hannigan’s high, keening double-tracked vocals and the sinister, oceanic deeps of looming brass rising beneath simple piano chords.
The delicate tracery of guitar, violin and high, wheedling synthesiser floats over the anchoring piano and a beat akin to oars scudding the sea, as she depicts the lovers “sunk like treasure”.
Elsewhere, “Tender” and “Funeral Suit” capture romantic moments lost in the union of dance, while “Anahorish”, Hannigan’s acappella version of a Seamus Heaney poem, recalls Fleet Foxes’ take on WB Yeats.
Hannigan plays down her role ("It wasn't my record"), but Rice was only ever partly responsible for O's beauty and richness.
Hannigan's vocals, Tom Osander's sensitive drumming and Shane Fitzsimons's solid bass backbone all turned a good record into one of the great Irish debuts.