Niamh Regan: Come as You Are – Warts-and-all thoughts on life, love and relationships

Second album of assured indie-folk pursues more of a full-band sound

Come as You Are
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Artist: Niamh Regan
Genre: Folk
Label: Faction Records

First impressions count. So when Niamh Regan’s beautiful debut, Hemet, was released in the depths of lockdown in 2020, yet still managed to make itself heard amid the din of the pandemic, it was proof that you don’t always need to shout. Regan’s remarkably assured brand of indie-folk earned high-profile support slots with John Grant, Villagers and others, a million streams on Spotify and probably the same number of comparisons with Laura Marling and Lisa Hannigan. There are worse fates.

Now comes album number two, which arrives in as plain-spoken a manner as its title suggests. Come as You Are lays Regan’s thoughts on life, love and relationships bare – although, as with her debut, she is not afraid to capture the uglier side of those themes. Inspired by what she described as a rough patch in her personal life, the album has an undercurrent of melancholy; on several songs she flip-flops between anger, resilience and disappointment, as on the dreamy standout track Long Haul: “Waiting on a reason to go ahead and leave you / How come it’s no better or worse when I picture it without you?” she murmurs before admitting, “I’m in it for the long haul, baby / I’m in it just to see how far we can go.”

Paint a Picture and Mortgage portray a conflicted relationship dynamic: “I want to paint you a picture of a happy family,” she sings in the former. “Why can’t I paint you that picture?” Despite the agonising turmoil of twenty-something love and life, the album ultimately ends on an upbeat note on the 1970s MOR of Record: “I know you’re out there waiting for me,” she sings to her beloved. “Hang in there, honey, keep the car running, save my seat.”

That’s also a song that seems to epitomise Regan’s eagerness to break away from those Marling comparisons. Much of this record, which was recorded in Donegal at the studio of the producer Tommy McLaughlin, pursues more of a full-band sound, although there are times you wish she had gone further.


Nice is an outlier here, its soft, booming beat framing a song about Regan’s own perceived misgivings, and although there are gorgeous moments, such as the Wilco-esque Americana of Music and the orchestral outro of Waves, Come as You Are often seems as if it could do with a surprise up its sleeve, instead of another (admittedly well-crafted) song at a measured pace. Still, it feels as if Regan is an artist we’ll be hearing a lot more of in the future – and there’s plenty of time for her magnum opus yet.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times