Naoise Roo – Debut Album – Review
There’s been a lot of new bands on the rise recently, so it’s interesting to see an emerging female solo artist like Naoise Roo. Her soon to be released debut album, Lilith, comes as an enticing combination of electronica and booming vocals, particularly for fans of The XX, FKA Twigs and Portishead. One cannot ignore the brilliant musical experience she has already garnered, previously playing alongside John Spillane and Mick Flannery in venues such as Vicar Street. She has spent the last two years honing her own songwriting abilities, examining the themes of sex, death and relationships in her writing. There’s this unusual element to her voice, it has this kind of old-school burlesque kind of feel to it and it has this all-encompassing quality that allows her to move between genres with ease. Admittedly, her style reaches out to elements of indie rock, grunge, and a sort of electro-pop that gives her music this sort of commanding presence. Lilith is a multi-genre album, seeking to demonstrate Naoise Roo as a musical powerhouse. As well as her impressive vocal range, the songwriting and production skills that have gone into the creation of the album are just as striking. The brilliance of this album must also give thanks to the production talents of Elder Roche (Myles Manley) and music engineer Liam Mulvaney (Girl Band, Buffalo Sunn). Furthermore, Lilith also features guest vocals from fellow singer/songwriter Sive and songwriter Joey Gavin, further adding essential presence, and a certain truthfulness to the album overall. It’s safe to say that Naoise Roo is offering us an album that culminates in an unusual mixture of dark, multifaceted sounds whilst other tracks bear this sort of otherworldly calmness. It’s apparent that the album tries to bring us on an emotional journey.
‘Uh Oh’ has this gorgeous simmering quality, her vocals are so delightfully rich, it’s just a joy to listen to and makes you want to put this track on repeat. The slow, pulsating quality of the drum really draws the ear to the vocals. The sudden clamour that the song transgresses into at random moments really highlights Naoise’s range, moving from reserved vocals to this sort of screeching, techno element. Titling a track ‘Whore’ suggests it’s either going to be a powerful and emotive song, or something that rests on the laurels of a vaguely explicit name. Thankfully, it follows the same path as ‘Uh Oh’, these sort of Karen O vocals that just act to highlight the efforts gone into the creation of this album; the grunge element that continuously re-emerges in this album is insanely enticing and a breath of fresh air in terms of musical genre. Interestingly, ‘For You/Postcard’ is over 9 minutes long so I was expecting it to be a power house of clattering drums. However, it seemed to play up to the songwriting abilities of Roo, her vocals are far more reserved and sombre; it’s apparent that she used her time and experience wisely, creating tracks that had a deeper significance to them rather than just a handful of adequate singles. ‘Oh Son’ was easily one of my favourite tracks, it had a far more upbeat element to it, she almost has this sort of Amanda Palmer element to her vocals in this track, and the shimmering presence of drums is just foot-tappingly good.
I didn’t really know what to expect from Naoise Roo’s album when I first read her bio, I thought her description was possibly a little bit far-reaching but she certainly steps up to the plate in regards to what she promises. Her sound is so fresh, her bright, radiant vocals are just a pleasure to listen to and the album overall is ultimately a combination of powerhouse vocals and masterful songwriting.
The single For You’ is released March 13th with a gig at the Workman’s Club.
Review by Elaine McDonald