To say that Claire Roche’s music is otherworldly is to state the blatantly obvious. But this harpist, pianist and singer treads a fine line between saccharine melodrama and trance-like romanticism, which doesn’t bear repeated exposure without considerable fortitude.
For sure, lurking deep beneath her grandiose musical gestures are echoes of Kate Bush (circa Wuthering Heights), Joanna Newsom and, regrettably, Enya, but the whole is considerably less than the sum of the parts.
Roche favours a romantic brand of nationalism, replete with elaborate decoration and a weighty idealism, and laden down with obscure references that find scant purchase in the novice listener.
Journey to Three Rock Mountain, at more than eight minutes long, would have benefited from the keen ear of a producer who might have corralled it into a length more in keeping with its shape. Visiting Hour, borrowing from a poem by Richard Murphy, is grounded by Roche's piano, but the pair of songs My Mother and My Father sink deep beneath the weight of that same romanticism that trades credibility for starry-eyed idealism.
A collection that feels far more then than here and now.