No less a musical authority than All Songs Considered has called Lisa Hannigan's voice "gorgeous." Elsewhere, the Irish singer's music has been described as ethereal, mesmerizing, whimsical and sublime. In 2008, after years of performing with her countryman Damien Rice, Hannigan set out on her own. Now, she's emerged from the studio with her second solo effort, Passenger — an album she and her band recorded in just one week.
"So we'll make one in an afternoon next," Hannigan jokes to Weekend Edition Sunday's Audie Cornish. Hannigan says that recording live, rather than track by track, allowed the group to give itself over to the task and not sweat the small stuff.
"It's such a natural process then," she says. "You're not thinking about getting it 'right,' which is the curse of the red light coming on. You're thinking, 'How do I do this correctly?' "
Hannigan enlisted Joe Henry, a singer-songwriter who released an acclaimed album of his own this year, to produce Passenger. She says that, even though Henry was a collaborator, she and the band thought of him more as an audience for the recording process.
"I think the way we recorded lent itself to us all really wanting to get to the essence of the song, and make Joe — sitting on the other side of the glass with his headphones on –- make him feel something," Hannigan says.
"That sort of made the record," she adds. "That we were playing to one person."