In the decade since she founded the acclaimed progressive string band Crooked Still, Aoife O'Donovan has collaborated with some of the most eminent names across roots, classical, bluegrass, and jazz, from Alison Krauss and Chris Thile to Yo-Yo Ma and Dave Douglas. This summer, Aoife (pronounced "ee¬fuh") will step to the fore with her debut solo album, Fossils, produced by Tucker Martine (the Decemberists / My Morning Jacket) and released in the UK on August 5 through Yep Roc.
Featuring 10 original songs by O'Donovan and contributions from friends and frequent collaborators like Sam Amidon and Dave Douglas, the album was recorded in Portland, OR, and Aoife's adopted home of New York City. Rich in songs and unexpected textures, the resulting album bears the remarkable fruits of O'Donovan's and Martine's creative partnership.
Most of O'Donovan's songs are character driven, and many of them resemble portions?of the folk traditions in which she was raised. Album opener "Lay My Burden Down" may already be familiar to music fans via Alison Krauss' interpretation of the track on her 2011 album Paper Airplane, whilst "Briar Rose" is based on an Anne Sexton poem, a recontextualized fairytale.
Throughout, O'Donovan and Martine have been careful to place her songs in a variety of musical settings; the intimate "Thursday's Child" and languid, wistful "Red & White & Blue & Gold" are hypnotic in their delicacy, while "Beekeeper" and "Fire Engine" show the forceful power and resolute grace drawn from the deep well of emotion in Aoife's voice.
Hailed in the US as "a vocalist of unerring instinct" by the NY Times, "transcendent" by the Boston Globe, and "the newest darling of the Americana set" by USA Today, O'Donovan will tour the US through the summer, before turning to the UK for autumn live dates.
1. Lay My Burden Down 6. Fire Engine
2. Briar Rose 7. Pearls
3. Thursday's Child 8. Glowing Heart
4. Red & White & Blue & Gold 9. I'm Alone
5. Beekeeper 10. Oh, Mama
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.