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Found Sound: Aoife O’Donovan’s “Fossils”

Prior to launching a solo career, acoustic guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Aoife O'Donovan (pronounced ee-fuh) spent the better part of a decade touring and recording with the celebrated progressive string group Crooked Still.

Her time with the group eventually led to collaborations with a host of names in the alternative folk and bluegrass scene including Allison Krauss and Jerry Douglas, as well as an appearance with Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan on the Grammy-winning Goat Rodeo Sessions album.

Although she’s undoubtedly enjoyed the opportunity to work with these legends, O’Donovan spent the past several years quietly forming the makings of a solo record in her creative subconscious.

This past June, O’Donovan finally realized this dream with Fossils, her debut LP released on Yep Roc Records. On Fossils, O’Donovan has developed a collection of bluegrass-tinged folk-rock that showcases a focused maturity in her songwriting, and a clear understanding of a deep-rooted music form.

The first thing that stood out to me about this release was how much the recording seems to breathe and move so freely and with little effort. The instruments sound warm and natural, the performances perfectly placed.

Fossils is produced by the great Tucker Martine, who has previously worked with The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens and one of my favorite guitarists–Bill Frisell–among many others. Martine expertly captures the effortless-sounding performances of drummer Robin MacMillan, bassist Jacob Silver, guitarist Ryan Scott and steel player Charlie Rose while allowing O’Donovan’s voice and words to take the forefront.

Fossils demonstrates the talents of a singer and songwriter who has clearly spent some time around today’s great players of this ever-expanding genre. Uncomplicated in the best way, the album gives listeners a chance to hear more than a decade’s worth of O’Donovan’s brewing talent and inspiration.

Aoife O'Donovan is on tour for the remainder of October and November. You can learn more here ( and check out the video for Fossils cut “Red & White & Blue & Gold” below.

Tom Gilbert is a guitarist (and aspiring pedal steel player) living in the San Francisco Bay Area. When he’s not blogging for Acoustic Nation, eating Thai food or being obsessed with his dog, Tom does marketing and PR for music and audio companies with Mad Sun Marketing.