While there is a lot of consternation about what is “country” these days when it comes to what we hear on the radio, the Americana scene continues to expand its sound without question. As long as the music is true and organic the fans will support it. Maybe it’s the ambiguity of the label, but I’ve seen artists as diverse as Pearl Jam to Tift Merritt fit the dimensions of the genre. Roots Rock, Bluegrass, Folk, Alt-Country and Singer Songwriters all seem to gel in the Americana label.
Boston singer/songwriter Aoife O’Donovan may not be well known, but she has been in the forefront of the new bluegrass scene singing with her old band Crooked Still and performing with Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek and Sarah Jarosz with their I’m With Her Tour. She has also had a successful indie folk run with her two brilliant solo albums, Fossils and In The Magic Hour. O’Donovan recently brought her solo show to the Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis for a magical night of music.
O’Donovan’s music doesn’t stray too far. It’s solid, strong and packed with emotion. Her vocals are sweet, evocative and haunting. Her set took flight with such gems as “Magpie,” “The King of All Birds,” and “Stanley Park,” “Porchlight,” “Pearls,” and “Red & White & Blue & Gold.”
During the performance O’Donovan took a moment to ask if there were any fans of the TV show Nashville in the audience. As it turns out her song “Detour Sign” was on that night’s episode.
The fieriest moment in the set came when she performed the rhythmic “Hornets” and later played a cover of Emmylou Harris’ “Boulder to Birmingham.”
O’Donovan ended closed out the show with a remarkable version of “Magic Hour” and opening act, Mark Erelli returned to the stage to join her for a stunning version of “Oh Mama.”
Aoife O’Donovan is not going to bang you over the head with pop hooks and trendy sounds, but she will stir the senses with her otherworldly vocals and inspired music which is a pleasant change of pace.