On the Verge: Lisa Hannigan

Lisa Hannigan is what comes to mind when you think of a regular Irish girl: she’s got the hair, she’s got the look, and – upon further inspection – she’s definitely got the sound. After seven years playing with recent indie music legend and fellow Irishman Damien Rice, Hannigan struck out on her own to great popularity with 2009’s Sea Sew. By the time she arrived at WERS for an On the Verge presentation in support of her latest album Passenger, the solo routine was already old hat.

“Getting used to standing in the middle of the stage is the brunt of it,” the thirty-year-old laughed as she set up, both an acoustic guitar and a ukulele close at hand. Playing two songs from Passenger (“Little Bird” and “Knots”), Hannigan was completely engrossed in the material, cooing into the microphone while deftly playing the strings. Though Rice’s music has taken a new direction since she went solo, listeners will recognize Hannigan’s sweet vocals from big Rice hits like “9 Crimes” and the majority of the 2002 album O. On finding a fanbase and direction in America as opposed to her home country, the artists laughed, “I think I’m still on the verge everywhere. I’m, you know, better known in Ireland, but it’s not like people are stopping me on the street or anything. The fact that I’m a working musician and make my living that way is most important.”

As an indie artist bursting onto the scene, writing and performing the music is only the tip of the iceberg for Hannigan. Though Passenger has garnered a lot of attention and is her first album produced solo in a studio, she still deals with her fans on a personal basis and feels the stress and struggle of promoting through social media like anyone’s favorite local artist would. “I’ve found the website to be pretty useless, honestly,” she laughs on the use of her main site. “We’ll have a show in Montreal and suddenly people will be tweeting, ‘When are you coming to Montreal?!’. It’s tough to make sure people are keeping up, but I try,” she says. “Fans can tell when it’s not you.” Don’t worry, fans—from the music to the lyrics to the tour and even down to the tweets, it’s all Lisa Hannigan.

By Jamie Loftus

If you liked this, check out:
On the Verge: The Pines

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