Emotionally stirring, musically diverse and breathtakingly honest...

Shrouded in darkness, self-doubt and uncertainty, ‘Oíche’ is the debut album from London- based Irish artist Constance Keane’s project Fears. Written over a five-year period which saw Keane have a breakdown, in her own words, and being admitted for mental health treatment, ‘Oíche’, meaning night, was recorded in three bedrooms, one hospital and a recording studio, combining to create a moving piece of work that is incomparable in emotional weight and texture.

Across the album’s ten-tracks, Fears examines everything from feeling unworthy, changes in both familial relationships and the relationship with oneself, reaching beyond the depths of despair and finding confidence and hope in all that binds us. Instrumentally sparse at times, the tone of the album is one of reflection, as Fear’s haunting vocals soar high above the instrumentation, like the earthy remnants of a dream once lived but drifting further away with every waking breath.

Emotionally stirring, musically diverse and breathtakingly honest, ‘Oíche’ is a reflection on all that’s come and gone in the life of one of Ireland’s great creatives. With tracks such as the album’s opener ‘h_always’, written from the hospital room in which Keane found herself searching for a sense of purpose, to lead singles such as ‘Vines’ and ‘Fabric’, an ode to regaining control, Fears continues to ask the most pertinent of questions in the most honest of manners.

It’s midway through the album that its emotional power is felt the most, in particular with the use of the home-recording of a conversation between the artist’s sister and late grandmother. Recorded during her grandfather’s wake, it brings the preceding emotions into stark contrast, as the real-world impact of such sentiments are truly felt. It reminds the listener that even at the hardest of times, happiness springs eternal, and hope can be taken from even the smallest of moments.

Beautifully comforting and uncomfortable raw in equal measure, 'Fears' has produced an album of great power and hope at a time when, for many, both are in short supply. Crafted through the prism of the listener’s own experience, it is certain to hold a weight others could only dare to dream of.

8/10

Words: Cailean Coffey

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