Born from the essence of self-reflection available to those able to meditate clearly while sifting through all that has happened – to the culture and society at large, to one’s heart in the pursuit of requited love, at childhood’s end and the fullness of family – is Aoife O’Donovan’s Age of Apathy. The apathy is not O’Donovan’s, but commentary on post 9/11 America: “Oh to be born in the age of apathy / When nothing’s got a hold on you / If you need someone to hold you can hold me,” she breathes on the album’s eponymous track, the rest a description of the day including the generational question, “Was it the end or the beginning?”
Elsewhere, O’Donovan spills secrets of her observations and experiences on top of music that’s largely beautiful with occasional surprises of tonal shift. Personal attributions abound in references of place; trips up the Taconic Parkway and beyond, and Brooklyn’s B-61 Bus, its route a player in the early romance of the record’s second track aptly named, “B-61.” A New Yorker no more, O’Donovan sat crafting the songs alone at night in her new Florida home then taking them in the daylight to Full Sail studios in Orlando where she traded the engineer’s time with an agreement to stream the session to the university students for their enrichment. These pieces made their way to producer Joe Henry’s (Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, Bettye LaVette, Elvis Costello, Allen Toussaint) studio in Maine and back again in layers of musical conversation over the course of nearly a year. The result is a Folk record that has invented its own realm beyond we’re used to, not just from O’Donovan but the genre at large. That’s not to say there aren’t heavy Folk influences, namely that of Joni Mitchell found throughout, but O’Donovan takes this otherwise nearly impossible effort to properly emulate influence and makes it sound effortless, most notably in the tracks “Phoenix,” and lead single “Passengers.”
O’Donovan’s tales are spinning for listeners all over with WMOT, KCSN, KBAC, and WFPK, leading the way and a string of tour dates are scheduled starting later this month.
Photo by Omar Cruz