Ailbhe Reddy – ‘Endless Affair’ album review

Ailbhe Reddy Endless Affair album artwork and review

Photo credit: Niamh Berry

Ailbhe Reddy follows up her 2020 debut album ‘Personal History’ with ‘Endless Affair’ – a collection of songs that find the Irish singer-songwriter tackling the pain and relief of growing up, the power of living and the raw emotion of mortality…

‘Shitshow’ opens the album with hushed tones that evolve into chiming guitar notes and glacial vocals that ask rhetorical questions – ‘How did I get here?’ – and harmonies before ‘A Mess’ drives the album into a more indie-pop direction with its frenetic hooks and distorted vocals full of energy and anxiety: ‘I’m trying to be everything that can exist, just to be fulfilling’. ‘Damage’ continues in this melodic vein, with its heartbreaking words – ‘Maybe I could start to believe that all you ever did was hold me back’ – being soundtracked by handclaps. ‘Inhaling’ is more restrained with elements of Sharon Van Etten as Ailbhe opens up in devastating fashion: ‘I was in pain but at least I had feeling’.

‘Bloom’ reminded us of Conor Oberst’s solo material as Ailbhe sings about meeting someone in a bathroom and recognising them to very little acknowledgement. This is followed by the gently experimental ‘Last to Leave’ and Big Thief-meets-The Antlers stylings of ‘Shoulderblades’ – a deeply romantic song with lovelorn lines delivered in a goosebump-inducing falsetto: ‘I love to watch you, how the light hits your face’.

‘I’m Losing, You’re Winning’ moves into a wonky art-pop sound before the deeply honest Good Time’ finds Ailbhe taking responsibility for selfish acttions n the past. The piano-led intro of ‘You Own the Room’ evokes a vision of a singer in a smoky back room delivering a had-to-be-there set – encouraged by Ailbhe’s support – ‘Sing for the crowd’; ‘Show them a good time’ – while ‘Pray for Me’, written following the passing of her grandmother, also packs a devastating emotional punch as Ailbhe examines the little joys in later life: ‘She says she loves to hear the birds sing. It’s what keeps her going when the day is dying’.

The album closes with ‘Motherhood’, an ode to the commitment and energy of parents: ‘Your childhood was hard so you wanted ours to be easy’. ‘Endless Affair’ is a special record that finds Ailbhe sharing the life lessons of the past few years and trying to make sense of what comes next…


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