Currently the new darling of US Americana, Aoife O'Donovan is from Massachusetts but she spent her summers in Ireland immersing herself in a proud folk and trad tradition. That unofficial music schooling pays off handsomely on her debut solo album but this is no beginning for O'Donovan – she’s already a ten-year veteran having played with respected bluegrass outfit Crooked Still and a selection of roots music luminaries including Jim Lauderdale and Chris Thile. With her sweet voice and the sterling playing of her band, it’s easy to draw comparisons with Alison Krauss, the current queen of soft-focus Americana (Krauss has recorded O'Donovan’s composition Lay My Burden Down and it opens this album) but there’s more to the 30-year-old than that. For a start, O'Donovan’s songs are shot through with far more sorrow and longing with the likes of Glowing Heart slowly unfolding with stark, shivering strings and Pearls relaying a tale of dodgy dealings with real urgency. Thursday’s Child’s delicate pedal steel and subtle trumpet are lulling and while the band are kept on a low simmer throughout, they do boil over on Beekeeper and it's a promising hint at what can happen when they cook it up. Maybe Fossils is a bit too twilight-on-the porch at times but O'Donovan’s sweet voice is always enrapturing. It’s also her ticket to the big time. ***

Alan Corr