Ailbhe Reddy‘s debut EP, ‘Dwell’, doesn’t sound like it was recorded in someone’s living room. This collection of haunting, atmospheric tunes sounds more like the product of somewhere mysterious and dramatic … a crumbling, gothic church perhaps or a cabin in some remote forest.
The opener, Flesh & Blood, firmly establishes the hushed, dreamy tone of ‘Dwell’. A spare arrangement, the song makes good use of fragmented lyrics, heavy reverb, and ethereal backing vocals in order to create ample space for her fine voice to fill.
Cover Me maintains the laid-back feeling of Flesh & Blood. Clearly aiming to be the lead single, the song features a more pop-orientated sound and a memorable hook. It is nearly impossible not to be taken with Reddy’s serene voice as she wistfully coos over a sea of voices and acoustic guitars. The song is an excellent showcase of her abilities as performer and songwriter and proves to be the high point of ‘Dwell’.
After a stellar opening, the second-half of ‘Dwell’ comes as a bit of an anticlimax. The harmony-driven Swan Song and Love of Your Son are pretty enough but fail to offer something fresh.
Reddy evidently draws inspiration from the vast range of female folk artists, such as Laura Marling, The Staves, and Gemma Hayes. Over the past few years this has become an overcrowded and often bland genre. The task of creating original and attention-worthy music poses quite a challenge to today’s folk musicians. So the question is: does Ailbhe Reddy manage this?
‘Dwell’ is a confident debut which highlights Reddy’s talents as both singer and songwriter. Though it contains some moments of genuine beauty and sophistication, but there’s still the niggling suspicion that a little more risk-taking would’ve paid-off.