The hype around Personal History has been brewing for years. Ailbhe Reddy’s well deserved following includes Lauren Laverne and has landed her first single, ‘Time Difference’, on BBC Radio 6’s weekly playlist. As the debut album finally drops, we’re presented with a work full of raw emotion, sharp vocals, and some Dublin steel.
Ailbhe has carved out the perfect niche for herself. Some have called her a new wave of Irish folk, others place her as 2020 update to ‘00s indie rock, but whatever Ailbhe is, her sound is undoubtedly her own. As her perspectives on love and life take centre stage, Ailbhe Reddy explores what love and life mean for a queer Irish woman in 2020.
She deftly carves out an image of a woman trying to be honest, to be her best, and what it feels like to fail at that again and again. Relatable and yet desperately personal, album opener Failing paints a picture of deep uncertainty in the face of love and life, the tone sets itself with “I’m trying my best to make this make sense, but I’m failing”.
Regardless, something beautiful can come from failure, and Personal History is a testament to that. Deeply rooted in the everyday, Life Without You is a bittersweet ode to the little things. Like a respectful eulogy to the relationship, Ailbhe’s touches on the sincere - like “Never minded your morning breath, how you got lost in your own head’ – but her emotional ending plea of ‘once you shut that car door, we can’t be us anymore” reminds us that grief and pain are not always so simple.
Looking Happy is the most fun song from the album, and Ailbhe does a really good job of catchy but heavy-hitting lyrics. As the most uptempo, she catches the mental chaos that comes with someone leaving your life. Imaging this song live brings an image of catharsis with it, like the anger of seeing their life move forward without you in it. Ailbhe’s voice also really suits the extra input from guitars on this track, as her sharp vocals lend themselves to some self-righteous volume.
There’s no doubt that Ailbhe keeps a diary, as the album feels as though it represents her emotionally deepest days from the last few years. It’s definitely a work exploring fear, branded as a rites of passage relationship exploration. If you feel as though you’re struggling to admit something to yourself, chances are Personal History can draw it out of you – this is definitely someone with a healthy touch on her emotions.
If she was trying to make thousands of young women fall in love with her, Ailbhe has crafted the perfect album. Listen to religiously after your next breakup as truly, no one will understand like Ailbhe Reddy.