Having first embarked on a career in music in 2011, Irish artist Áine Duffy has since traveled the world to promote her work. With performances clocked up across the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Canada and the US, she has also acted as support to musicians such as Imelda May and Jack L.
Following on from debut single “I Don’t Think You’re Ready” and its 2012 sequel, “Keeping the Streets Calm”, April 3rd saw the release of the singer/songwriter’s new album, With Bells On. Its genre is rather difficult to define, with the first two tracks probably being best described as a blend of folk and R’N’B. Opening number “Paler in the Mirror” fades in on gentle acoustic guitars and piercing vocals. Its successor, “He Knew”, has a very similar vibe, the main difference being its more hushed instrumental approach and higher pitched harmonies.
“Won’t Go For Now” has an exotic beginning ahead of a funky verse and chant like melody, all of which makes it more animated than the inaugural entries. “Don’t Do Much” continues from here through a jazzy rhythm that unfolds alongside accusatorial lyrics. “Keeping the Streets Clean” arrives next at a slower pace, sounding a tad arduous at times as it meanders forward. “I Can’t Help You” takes over via a very gradual guitar introduction that sets a sombre atmosphere, which is further emphasized by the consistently solemn vocal tone.
“On the Roof” comes afterwards with an admirably expressive harmony that makes it the catchiest offering on the record. “Red On You” is fast and fiesty in its wake, while the bassy and boisterous “Excuses” adopts a pop/rock flavour by adding in electric guitars and percussion. “Wallet, Keys, Phone” goes by its immediate predecessor’s example by staying busy musically, ultimately serving as a low-pitched, determined finale.
Áine Duffy’s material is generally very reserved and simple. Relying heavily on acoustic riffs, more often than not the instrumentation exists subtly in the background while her decidedly unique melodies and shrill vocals take precedence. The passionate demeanor of With Bells On is commendable, but for many the songs showcased here may be something of an acquired taste.
The compilation is available on Bandcamp now.