Aoife O'Donovan - Cancelled
Cancelled (from Friday 3 February)
Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, Aoife O’Donovan’s show at Sage Gateshead is no longer able to take place. All tickets will be refunded at point of purchase.
We will be in touch about your tickets. Thank you for your patience and co-operation. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Reflection, remembrances, and self-reckoning combine on Aoife O’Donovan’s third solo album, where her gift for tantalizing poetry is woven into a soundscape more rich and vivid than any she’s created before.
Age of Apathy is an album that traces a journey through grown-up life and ponders the question facing both singer and listener alike: what do you want from yourself? The 11 tracks on this record came together in an extraordinarily fertile few months, sparked by O’Donovan’s move out of New York in September 2020. Transplanted to the lush forests of central Florida, O’Donovan found something she’d never known before: the time and space to craft an album away from a packed performing schedule and the rigors of the road. For someone who admits that writing can be a struggle, the process was electrifying. “I felt I’d entered into a creative period unlike anything else I’d ever done,” says O’Donovan.
It’s impossible to feel the groove of Phoenix – a celebration of her muse’s return – or hear the cosmic uplift of the album-closer, Passengers, without absorbing her own joy-filled experience. She is, however, aware of the irony. After all, this burst of creativity emerged from – and often charts – the malaise that dogged her at the start of the pandemic, and which had its origins long before. In the album’s title song, Age of Apathy, O’Donovan references the moment she (along with so many of her generation) felt her adulthood begin: on September 11, 2001. Instead of dwelling on an individual tragedy, she draws her emotion from the two decades that followed: an onslaught of information from the digital age, a cultural environment that can leave us both overwhelmed and inert. “I let go around 2009,” she sings, “lost the feeling in my hands.”
From its hypnotic opener, Sister Starling, this album unfolds like a lifetime journey, following a breadcrumb trail of memories from youth to middle age. It’s a recognition of our frustrations and frailties, the implacable receding of our own past, and a sometimes anxious interrogation of the future: “Where is what’s good here, and what are we going to make of America?” asks the singer amid the insistent, rising cry of the album’s turning point, Elevators.
In its wake, Prodigal Daughter, Galahad and Town of Mercy recognize the need to reconcile ourselves to our own flawed humanity, and in Passengers, O’Donovan ends with a soaring determination to accept and embrace the orbital path we’re on. Some of the songs had their beginnings during lockdown.
O’Donovan picked out B61 on the piano in her New York apartment; it shimmers with the light of the Brooklyn bars and riverfront spots she was missing. The captivating and almost unnerving opening of Lucky Star came to her on her lockdown runs. She worked on it last June during a two-day break from her family, a short window when she could spend some time alone with a pile of novels and her guitar. The result is heavy with the irresistible sultriness of a “wet hot American summer”.
Despite the success and fame of many musical projects – from Crooked Still to I’m With Her, from her Live from Here collaborations with Chris Thile to her two previous solo albums – this album still feels like a personal breakthrough to O’Donovan. “I love singing and performing so much that I’ve never really considered myself a songwriter in the same way that some people do,” she says. “But I’m really proud of these songs and the experience of writing them has really given me a new confidence.”
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