Multi-instrumentalist and visual artist Brigid Mae Power is on her third album, Head Above the Water. This title is not fortuitous since this opus, recorded in three days in Glasgow, is about daily survival. Peter Broderick, her husband, a musician and composer from Oregon who collaborates with Nils Frahm among others, and Alasdair Roberts, a Scottish folk musician, co-produced Head Above the Water with her. You can hear the rhythms and ornamentation of Hamilton Belk on pedal steel guitar, Selah Broderick on flute, Stevie Jones on bass, Brian Mac Gloinn on bouzouki and violin, and Liam Chapman on drums.
After a childhood in London, Brigid Mae Power continues her life in the west of Ireland, in Galway. Capital of the county of the same name, this university town is home to singers such as Dolores Keane and Julie Feeney, who perpetuate the tradition of Celtic folklore. Brigid Mae Power emerges from this breeding ground, having discovered the “sean-nós” – “old style” in Gaelic – with which she imbues her soprano vocals. The nasalization and the changes of notes in the same syllable (which often give the impression of hearing yodelling starters), typical elements of sean-nós, give an ancestral patina to Brigid’s singing.
The fan of folk from the British Isles will no doubt establish a link between Head Above the Water and the work of Sandy Denny, the singer with the bewitching voice and tragic fate. To take full advantage of this collection of laments that move from ineffable beauty to diffuse nostalgia, the musicophile will do well to accompany the listening with some kind of cordial accompaniment.