Lisa O’Neill: Heard a Long Gone Song review – This is as beautiful as it gets

Heard a Long Gone Song
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Artist: Lisa O’Neill
Genre: Traditional
Label: River Lea/Rough Trade

Jumping from self-releases to a working record label is grist to the mill for many working musicians.

Lisa O'Neill's previous three albums (2009's Has an Album, 2013's Same Cloth or Not, 2016's Pothole in the Sky) were self-released, but her fourth is on the new Rough Trade imprint River Lea, home, says its Twitter bio, to "beautiful and strange traditional music from Britain, Ireland and beyond".

The distinct impression throughout her label debut is that O'Neill really has found her tribe, because Heard a Long Gone Song is as beautiful as it gets.

Whether you’d describe it as strange is down to the “Marmite” factor, which has often been directed towards O’Neill’s voice, and which either arrests you or not.


If it doesn’t, walk away now. If it does (and it’s a yes from me) then you will be drawn into an authentic, sometimes otherworldly, sense of place, time, and tradition.

Across a mix of originals, traditional, and one cover (Shane MacGowan's Lullaby of London), O'Neill calmly but decisively stakes her claim as a mould-breaker.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture