On her way to heaven, Lisa O’Neill hit “a pothole in the sky.” And so it begins, a perfect way to start this tale, this journey, this album. Because all great things and all great art usually stem from a bump in the road, or a pothole in the sky. This is Lisa O’Neill from Cavan’s third album, following a witty and charming debut (This Is An Album By Lisa O’Neill), and follow-up (Same Cloth or Not) that marked her a serious artist, a contender, a voice, a forked tongue.
This one, however, is the recording Lisa O’Neill needed to make. It’s a recording of “the voice”. The Voice is everything for the folk singer – a conduit for the words, the emotion, the thought process. And if, like me, you ever felt a record needed to be made of an artist’s voice, about her voice, so beautifully focused on, centred on, honed-in on and in love with the voice, then this, friends, is the fucking record. Excuse my French. David Odlum – the producer who calls the Loire Valley residential paradise that is Black Box Studio his home – has taken this notion literally and assisted O’Neill in making the record that needed to be made.
O’Neill’s voice goes to all sorts of places throughout the course of this album, and the music provided by Mossy Nolan, Emma Smith, Joseph Doyle and Seamus Fogarty follows her like a dark swirling storm, often bringing to mind the loose impressionism of the Dirty Three. On ‘’Planets’’ O’Neill delivers her most extraordinary vocal and lyrical performance to date. It is remarkable and on this form she could go toe to toe with Nick Cave at his most fire and brimstone. Except O’Neill’s prose is elemental and mysterious, not angry.