It’s been quite a while since Ann Scott’s impressive second album ‘We’re Smiling’ was released, an accomplished album that stood up to repeated listens while her debut ‘Poor Horse’ was equally as arresting. Despite this, the Dublin-born singer has always remained under the radar as an artist in this country, never quite achieving the kudos she deserves. With third album ‘Flo’ it is surely time for Scott to step out from the shadows, as it is her most complete work to date and heralds her as a major talent.
This significant creative progression is evident from the ominous opening bars of first track ‘Love is in him’. Built around a simple, minimal acoustic guitar figure and gentle cello it features Gemma Hayes on backing vocals, never before sounding so spooky and disembodied. The brilliant ‘Universe’ has spectral piano borrowed from PJ Harvey’s ‘White Chalk’ album while the comparatively rockier ‘Under The Sun’ is oddly reminiscent, in parts, of Mogwai in their quieter moments. The rich acoustic-strum of ‘Always’ is one of the few conventional tracks here while the gorgeous title-track ‘Flo’ sees the desolate piano of ‘Universe’ return, bringing the album to a fittingly ghostly finale.
What makes this album stand out from her previous work are the understated arrangements that keep Scott’s strikingly fragile voice to the fore, a voice thankfully bereft of unnecessary emoting and vocal quirks. Important to note too, that there is barely a dip in quality over the fourteen songs. If there’s a better Irish album released this year, I’ll be very surprised.