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Don’t be fooled by the calm demeanor. Ireland’s Brigid Mae Power embodies the kind of simmering tension that can induce a deep sense of creeping anxiety. Head Above the Water, her excellent third album, mimics a gently alluring (slightly scary) fever dream, setting Power’s beautifully languid voice against a richly detailed backdrop of acoustic guitar, fiddle, steel, mellotron, bouzouki and the like. While the elegant melodies suggest traditional folk music, her sharp-eyed compositions paint vivid scenes of modern lives under extreme pressure.
The quietly chilling “Wedding of a Friend” revisits the unsettled early days of motherhood, noting, “Everyone was saying/How beautiful you were,” only to continue, “All I could ask them was/‘How can I save him?’,” concluding, “The look in their eyes/Said there was nothing/That you or I or anyone could do.” On “Wearing Red That Eve” she recalls being harassed in New York by men shouting profanities, triumphantly adding, “My strength that came next even frightened me.” Crafting memorable vignettes of vulnerability and self-reliance, Brigid Mae Power is never less than transfixing.
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