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From the west of Sligo, a fusion of traditional Irish and contemporary folk arrives in the form of BRÍDÍN, a fourth-generation trad musician skilled at harp, flute, piano and sean nós. Yet this is no ordinary traditional sound despite its roots in classic Irish music—Ocean of Stars thrillingly blends looped harp and vocals to offer a contemporary and highly unique twist on Irish folk, resulting in a spellbinding debut.
Opening instrumental piece ‘Wysteria’ is an early showcase for BRÍDÍN’s exceptional skills on her preferred weapon of choice, as the Sligo native solos on her harp atop a foundation of strings and a minimalist rhythm section, before ‘Floating’ earns its title with an alluring mix of harp, piano, layered vocals and percussion as BRÍDÍN sings a hypnotic refrain that levitates over and under a wave of instrumentation.
‘North-West’ is a peaceful contemporary folk ballad that requires no accompaniment (save for a light string section) in order to shine, recalling the work of Joanna Newsom with its indie folk leanings and cathartic climax. Title track ‘Ocean of Stars’ utilizes all of the aforementioned instrumental brilliance to superb effect on the EP’s best track. A looped vocal hook provides a dreamlike framework for BRÍDÍN to rise above as she celebrates the northwest coast of Ireland with lyrics that offer up praise for the natural beauty of her home county. The title track gives way to finale ‘The Salmon’s Tale’, an understated yet tranquil arrangement featuring Colm Mac Con Iomaire that brings this winning collection to a gentle close.
Taken as a whole, these five tracks signify an enchanting introduction for a wonderfully unique talent in Irish music. As one of the standout Irish releases of 2021 already, Ocean of Stars deserves to be heard around the country and beyond.