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Darwin's Daughter Darwin's Daughter
Album: The Dark
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 4

Based in Dublin and otherwise known as Fiona Ruth Hannon, following a couple of singles, this is her debut EP, a gathering of four tracks that place her in the long tradition of powerfully-voiced female Irish contemporary folk balladeers. Working with Max Greenwood on piano, guitarist Anthony Gibney and Kim Porcelli in cello, she opens up with the dramatic piano ballad love song 'Dark Fires', her slightly husky vocals bringing a sense of longing. In contrast, the romantic lullabying 'Moonlight' is less orchestrated, waltzing on the back of a simple acoustic guitar and spare piano notes, Porcelli providing the strings colouring. Again swathed in lush orchestration, 'Angel On My Shoulder' strikes a poignant autobiographical note in being written following the death of her sister-in-law, the all too brief set closing with another slow waltz-time number, sawing dark cello lines and a thrumming guitar pulse complementing the melancholia and despair of 'Godless World', its lament for the loss of traditional values and a call to start over.

There's a not a great variation of mood or sound here, but the previous releases, a joyful 'Home' and the upbeat, slightly jazzier hints of 'The Greatest Show On Earth', both of which feature drums, reveal another side to her work, and it would be good next time round to feature a balance between things; nevertheless, this certainly marks her out as someone to keep a close eye on.

Mike Davies