The twin powers of the road and memory are powerful, beguiling forces for singer/songwriters. Aoife O'Donovan is no exception. In the Magic Hour is her sophomore album. Written mostly during a solitary respite from traveling, its intimate songs are haunted by the emotional resonance of memory. The ….
I first encountered Aoife O'Donovan's unmistakeable voice in the adventurously reimagined string band, Crooked Still. Equal parts waif and banshee, her warm, breathy voice brought a rare subtlety to the progressive string band scene. With the help of producer Tucker Martine (Neko Case, Beth Orton, the Decemberists), O'Donovan's second solo album, In The Magic Hour, leaves the string band format decidedly behind, and builds a sweeping, jazz-tinged folk-pop soundscape at times reminiscent of late '70s Joni Mitchell albums (think Don Juan's Reckless Daughter).
Though she’s from Massachusetts, Aoife O’Donovan’s second solo album is a beautiful reflection on childhood summers spent in Ireland with her grandfather. It’s partly a tribute to him – he died while she was writing the songs. (He also sings on ambient traditional song Donal Óg.) In producer Tucker Martine’s hands (he’s worked with Neko Case, Punch Brothers, the Decemberists and Laura Veirs), O’Donovan’s music sounds light and atmospheric, her folk freed up by billowing electric guitars and sensitive percussion.
Sweetness and sadness find a tenuous balance in the voice of Aoife O’Donovan — and in the songs on her second album, “In the Magic Hour.” A meditation on time and distance, it’s partly inspired by the memory of Ms. O’Donovan’s grandfather, who hailed from County Cork in Ireland ….