Having emerged as one of the most unique singer-songwriters in the Irish music scene with her debut album, Lilith, Naoise Roo is back with her follow-up Emotionally Magnificent.
This time around, we find the Dublin-raised, Belfast-based artist at her most open and progressive. The 11-track LP delves into themes surrounding depression, public perceptions of women with mental illness and the complexities of the music industry itself.
Naoise Roo’s voice has already been compared to one PJ Harvey. This is evident from opening track ‘Sick Girlfriend’, her deep voice quivering with emotion during the voices but soaring during the hook over a garage rock backdrop. Thematically, the song sets the tone for the rest of the album, exploring the exploitative nature of the manic pixie dream girl movie trope.
To call the track a tone-setter in terms of sonic, however, is to do the album a disservice, however. The album draws from many musical wells. ‘Black Hole’ borrows from disco, while ‘Nobody Can Make Me Do What I Don’t Want To’ borders on alt-country. Album highlights, the deeply confessional ‘Razor Sharp Shirt’ and ‘Whoever’ are, respectively a crowded punk rock barn-burner, and trip-hop adjacent.
Naoise’s ability to tackle such heavy subject matter with a satirical gaze might well be the album’s secret weapon. On lead single, the country-fried chamber pop torch song, ‘Sacred Cow’, the artist takes down the very notion itself, providing the album’s most irresistible hook (“Giddy up and take me somewhere new”). ‘Falling Stars’, over washed out guitar chords, is similarly seething with cynicism (“Touch me once again / Say that you’re a friend / And I won’t react”).
It’s an incredibly varied listen. Its wide sonic scope is a testament to the ambition and adaptability of its creator, but also the star-studded cast of musicians she has surrounded herself with in creating it. Produced by Liam Mulvaney (Gilla Band, The Radio, Fionn Regan) with assistance from Jamie Hyland (Gilla Band, Mhaol), with contributions from Daniel Fox (Gilla Band), Rian Trench (Solar Bears) and guitarist Karl Tobin. All elements combined create a rich, immersive experience over which Naoise’s deep, powerful voice soars.
Thematically raw and sonically progressive and diverse, Emotionally Magnificent is a brilliant record. While more introspective than its predecessor, the only difficulty in this sophomore album is in its subject matter. Naoise Roo proves herself once again to be one of the most singular voices in Irish music. Danny Kilmartin
Emotionally Magnificent is out via CD/LP on 17th November. Pre-order here