Crafting intricate guitar fingerpicking and ghostly, rolling vocals, ‘Left Behind’ the new album by Donegal folk duo Without Willow demands to be listened to attentively.

With the album recorded over the last several years since the release of their debut eponymous EP in 2018, Without Willow have used this time to perfect an eleven-track album which feels as introspective and reflective as a meditation on a half decade of life passing might suggest.

The duo, which consists of Karen Kelly and Simon McCafferty have sole writing credits on songs which deal primarily with the oft-trod topics of loss and the memories of past relationships. Opening with Come Back And Say Goodbye, a lullaby-like mourn for a lost loved one, the album is tinged with regret. On The Heather Field, Kelly sings “and I wish I’d stayed, start a family / alas my love was not to be”.

It’s a haunting realism which gives the album, while lyrically quite straightforward, a raw and relatable edge. While the majority of the album is written as if a letter addressing the subject of the lyrics. The Lighthouse is one exception to this, which allows the duo to employ more lyrical imagery which combined with the flowing production envelopes the reader: “the sea it calls me home, yearning to roam, bound to stone”.

While more variety would have helped display the tenderness of Kelly and McCafferty’s writing, it is in many ways the production which is the more intimate, with delicate guitar, soft percussion and ghostly backing vocals.

The album feels almost like a cross between Lana Del Rey and Turnpike Troubadours, blending a pensive tone with a folksy, Americana sound. A particular highlight is As Autumn Falls, which, as with the rest of the album, invites the listener to get lost in the music, the memories and the dreams.