- 10 Sep 20
The Galway singer-songwriter Niamh Regan has released her debut album: a captivating collection of emotion and dreamy melodies that draws the listener into feeling as deeply as she does...
Armed with an utterly entrancing timbre and dreamy contemporary folk melodies, on Hemet, Niamh Regan crafts a powerful journey through the trials and tribulations of growing up and finding her place in the world.
Though firmly grounded in her own experiencers, across a period of rapid change in her life, the poetic imagery crafted by Regan makes her work feel universal.
In this way, Hemet becomes a beautiful display of Regan’s core talent as a songwriter, that's buoyed by additional layers of production and collaboration, which effectively amplify her powerful rendering of emotion.
Captivating acoustic guitar and piano provide much of the record’s musical landscape, with intricately layered, yet low-key instrumentals painting vivid pictures of sadness, hope and everything in between. But the real impact comes from her colourful vocals. Regan’s warm timbre is at the forefront of each track, every shift in tone dripping with vulnerability and emotion.
The songs serve as vignettes of a sort, telling stories about a variety of characters drifting through life. Mild ambiguities leave interpretation finally to the listener, with the lyrics potentially taking on a whole different meaning, depending on your personal experiences. Her ability to portray a raw narrative that begs the listener to experience emotions as deeply as she does underlines her ability as a writer, and in many cases a poet as well.
Two tracks in particular – ‘Save the Day’ and ‘Ode to Youth’ – show a new side to Regan’s songwriting, shifting away from folk conventions with a hefty injection of energetic indie-rock. ‘Save the Day’ enjoins the themes of regret and confusion explored elsewhere on the record, but steady percussion and driving electric guitar infuse a sense of optimism here, turning the message of “I wish I could save the day, but I can’t” into one of acceptance rather than wishful thinking.
'Ode to Youth' is the closest Niamh has come to a pop track, chugging along on a steady beat and incorporating twinkling synths reminiscent – almost! – of a more introverted LCD Soundsystem. On both occasions, the variation in genre that these two tracks provide comes at a perfect moment, leavening the build-up of more somber tones.
‘Sweetest Drop’ sees Regan exploring both ethereal folk sounds and a darker, bluesier tone with a unique song structure that reaches its sonic peak in the middle of the track, before a satisfying de-crescendo. It’s both calming and intense, amplifying the contrasting emotions of the lyrics.
Closer ‘She’ is a rework of the single released four years ago, a clever choice in that it showcases her growth as an artist, its sweet sound bringing the album to an end with a reminder of her origins.
i>Hemet is a stunning debut from the Galway singer-songwriter. Her potential to be a future mainstay of the Irish music scene is clear. But, for now, Hemet stands on a pedestal of its own as uniquely, unmistakably the work of Niamh Regan. It’s a perfect record for a mid-morning cup of tea on a calm day, or a late-night moment of self-reflection about the wonderfully messy experience of life.