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Overdue debut worth the wait
Jackie Hayden, 03 Nov 2010
On the surface, Una Keane could be regarded as just one more singer-songwriter elbowing her music into an already over-crowded genre. But listen a little closer and her classically-developed piano, beguiling voice, her literate songs and her provocative arrangements will set this majestic debut apart from the one trick ponies out there.
The swaggering ‘Alice’ has a Brecht-Weil quality, driven by Bryan O’Connell’s shuffling snare. ‘The Sailor’s Waltz’ belongs in a dubious Parisian bar, and there’s an especially appealing vulnerability in Keane’s vocal as it flows through the dreamy ‘Saw A Wave’. Indeed, water is a recurring image. ‘Down By The River’ has her rippling piano, ‘Antarctica’ reflects the beauty of nature as she reminds us “all this comes for free”, and in ‘Mr Icarus’ she warns “don’t fly too close to the sea”. In the rock’n’rootsy ‘Easy’ she sings “I like to notice smaller details, like the curve, the learning curve of your back”, and that theme comes up again in the exuberant ‘Microscopic’. This long-awaited debut will evoke mutually-favourable comparisons with Julie Feeney, Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Carole King, among others, but it’s so much more than the sum of Keane’s influences. Her inventive piano invariably adds lustre and atmosphere to songs that avoid any sense of formula or predictability. In Trees she has delivered a noteworthy work that deserves not to get lost in the forest of new releases.
KEY TRACK: ‘ALICE’