Bones + Longing

Upon listening to Gemma Hayes' first record in almost four years, new fans will fall in love with her music, while old ones might hate her for making them wait so long for such a beautiful album. Good grief is this a dreamy one. While the Irish singer-songwriter has spent most of her career firmly planted in the folk genre, Bones + Longing brings something unexpected, bigger and more beautiful. The echoing, reverb-drenched “Laughter” leads off and introduces us to the alt-rock vibe that fills much of the rest of the record. The ambient rock track “Dreamt You Were Fine”—featuring spine-tingling, echoing-as-if-being-sung-from-the-end-of-a-mile-long-hallway vocals—furthers Hayes' beautiful new direction. Toss in the gradual build of the shoegazey “Iona,” and it hardly seems like the same Gemma Hayes. But in the center of the album, the more sparse, acoustic “Palomino” and the languid “Dark Moon” remind us that she still knows how to do beautiful folk music really well. Bones + Longing is a bold, engaging artistic statement and one of the nicest surprises of the tail-end of 2014.