Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Irish Albums of the Decade: 3 - Gemma Hayes - Night On My Side (2002)
She may have lost her way in recent times, with her music increasingly characterised by bland alt-country arrangements; but debut album Night On My Side marked Gemma Hayes out as a special talent, one that called to mind influences as diverse as My Bloody Valentine, PJ Harvey and Lisa Germano. It’s a captivating record whose strength lies not just in its individual songs but in the impressionistic spell cast by its melancholic atmosphere, discordant guitars and Hayes’ delicate, yearning vocals.
The Tipperary native possesses an extraordinary voice that couldn’t fail to impress if she was singing the contents of a phone book, and the music here ranges from the bleary Americana of ‘Day One’ (as gorgeously understated an opening track as you’re likely to hear anywhere) to the anguished drone of ‘Tear In My Side’ and the churning guitar rhythms of ‘Hanging Around’. The aching minimalism of ‘What a Day’ and the still incredible-sounding ‘Back Of My Hand’ (has there been a better Irish single released in the last 10 years?) epitomise the edge that she’s been struggling to recapture ever since.