As far as debut albums go, Big Dreams, by Dublin singer-songwriter Rachael Lavelle is one of the most beautifully crafted, compelling and musically adept of recent years. Lavelle has managed to not only imbue each track with a sense of uncertainty and existential dread that comes with each passing weekend of one’s twenties, but to write in a way that makes sense for both the album’s narrative structure whilst also showing off the best of her vocal range.
Recorded over the space of five years, Big Dreams is a coming-of-age story tracing stories of love, expectations and the often directionless frustrations many feel when it comes to leaving the safe confines and routines of college, and entering the daunting travails of working life.
Written and produced by Lavelle and her co-producers Ryan Hargadon and Alex Borwick across multiple studios, including Lavelle’s home studio in Lisbon, it magically features the voice of Dublin’s own tram system the Luas with Doireann Ní Bhriain narrating the writer’s inner monologue, repeating the phrase, “I am open to the possibilities” in near cult-like fashion. It’s a brilliant tool with which to wrap the listener even further into the narratives and themes.
Tracks such as Eat Green, Night Train and album opener Travel Size are amongst some of the highlights, but it’s the final track, Big Dreams that stands out; a gorgeously poignant note upon which to draw this wonderful album to a close. One of the year’s best, this debut is certain to stick with you long past its final notes.
Check out Zara Hedderman’s recent interview with Rachael.
Words: Cailean Coffey