Irish singer Brigid Mae Power infuses rustic folk music with an incantatory splendor | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Irish singer Brigid Mae Power infuses rustic folk music with an incantatory splendor


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There’s a steely determination inside “Don’t Shut Me Up (Politely),” a song from Irish singer-songwriter Brigid Mae Power’s recent second album, The Two Worlds (Tompkins Square). As the song thrums on within a single chord, she quietly but firmly chastises someone intent on controlling her and makes it clear she won’t be silenced. “You’d try to convince me / That I was somebody / Somebody that I’m definitely not,” she intones before asserting her own agency. It’s a message that can be applied broadly these days, as discourse seems to have devolved into who can shout the loudest or manipulate the most ruthlessly. Most of the other songs on the album address relationships and broader life choices in various states of distress, presenting ambiguities and misunderstandings in an open-ended light. The lyrics are masterfully complemented by the way the sparse arrangements (all of the piano, guitars, and drums were played by Power and Oregonian Peter Broderick, who mixed the album) float and gently shimmer, infecting ancient folk-derived melodic shapes with a dreamy, meditative incantatory style. My favorite track is the opener, “I’m Grateful,” a ballad of exquisite beauty and tenderness in which Power expresses gratitude for an unnamed but elemental kind of support; the narrator conveys thanks for “Your reassurance / The holding of your hand.” Though the music rarely rises above a conversation level, Power makes herself heard within that hushed atmosphere. Tonight is her Chicago debut, and this show is one of only two on the tour where she’ll be accompanied by Broderick.   v

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