When producers of long-running medical dramas about careworn but telegenic doctors want to soundtrack lives and loves in the balance, they reach for melodic ballads sung in cracked, halting tones by careworn, telegenic singers. The same goes for TV marketing departments - Cat Dowling’s slowly unfurling songs have been used to soundtrack on-air promos for hospital soap Grey’s Anatomy.

Don’t let that put you off. The former front woman of Dublin electronic/guitar act Alphastates is far removed from primetime drama and she has an inventive approach to already well-aerated matters of the heart on her excellent debut album. Grainy textures are shot through burnished, knotty songs played on harmonium, cello and viola and clearly Dowling is trying to untangle her emotions on the likes of the vaguely pyschedelic Turn and The Rules, which has a light bounce and a lovely summer shuffle.

The Kilkenny-born singer is made of sterner stuff on Somebody Else which has the teeth-grinding ferocity of early PJ Harvey while elsewhere she's in vaudevillian Regina Spektor/Julie Feeney territory. The Believer is that kind of album - full of twists, abrupt swerves and quirks. This is a supremely confident debut from an artist with a lot to say and plenty of bewitching ways to say it.


Alan Corr