Maria Kelly’s debut album, ‘the sum of the in-between’, more than delivers on her early promise, which prompted us to select her as a Plec Pick back in 2018.

In the interim, Kelly has grown considerably as a songwriter, delivering a sumptuous alt-folk debut smothered in delicate refrains and cathartic vignettes on the friction caused when you apply distance to love.

The influence of the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Julian Baker and Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker are never far away as Kelly ruminates on her self-perceived inadequacies. It is in the depths of her imposter syndrome where Kelly finds the most startlingly confessional moments.

These low ebbs are cleverly characterised in a series of voice notes that permeate the album, including the opening track Panic, which is a palpably uncomfortable listen. It is a brave and effective move on Kelly’s part to anchor the songs with such raw emotions.

The album reaches its zenith on the title track, Sum of the In-between – a song that wouldn’t feel out of place on any of the aforementioned acts’ albums – as tentative arpeggios set against spacious strings combine to create a dreamlike soundscape.

“I’m clumsy as fuck, sometimes I’ll straight up forget to love you,” claims Kelly an earnestly as she lists out her personal baggage before asking, “Are you Ok with that?”

Maria Kelly may be a work in progress, but ‘the sum of the in-between’ is without a doubt one of the finest alt-folk albums to come out of Ireland in quite some time.