One needn’t dig too deep into the Goldenplec archives to find glowing praise of the work being done by The Hard Ground during the 2014/2015 period. Because they released their LP ‘Triptych’ in four-song chunks over a period of a year, several writers got an opportunity to give their two cents. What was consistently highlighted as the group’s strongest quality was the delightful vocal interplay between leading figures Marlene Enright and Pat Carey.

Just a few short years later Marlene Enright’s debut solo album ‘Placemats and Second Cuts’ has been shortlisted for 2017’s Choice Music Prize. The album is a glowing endorsement of Enright’s individual style and vocal timbre, and offers an authentic alternative to her niche within The Hard Ground.

There is a clear acknowledgment throughout the record of the nature of Enright’s voice, which is delicate and gentle. The songs go at their own pace and are not smothered by over-production. Alchemy introduces the album, and while its fundamental pop roots are unmistakable, Enright’s serene vocal style adds a breezy, beachside-road-trip atmosphere. The same must be said of much of the album, including 123 and Underbelly.

It is an easy-going, free-flowing record that encourages the listener to take a load off and rest their heads in the clouds, while simultaneously offering some very grounded, sober introspection. During When the Water Is Hot Enright is particularly self-reflective. “I know I’m but one step away/ from becoming an outcast in the life that I’ve made”.

There is no questioning Enright’s bona fides as an individual artist in her own right. ‘Placemats and Second Cuts’ is an exciting first step for an artist with all the potential to make it as either a team player or a solo act. While Goldenplec have always been fond of her work with Pat Carey in The Hard Ground, the allure of a Marlene Enright solo career has become more enticing as a result of her first offering.