ALBUM: Ailbhe Reddy – ‘Endless Affair’

“My God look at the state of me / this is so embarrassing” sings Irish songwriter Ailbhe Reddy, scrutinising her drunken reflection on ‘Shitshow’, the opening track to her latest album, Endless Affair. Following on from 2020’s debut full length release, Personal History, on her new record Reddy finds the sweet spot between romantic melancholy, unfiltered shame and wry humour, as she re-frames her fractured memories of nights spent partying in her early 20s and various fluctuating loves and infatuations.

Written and recorded between January 2019 and October 2020, Reddy paired up with producer Tommy McLaughlin again to co-produce Endless Affair. She relished the opportunity to create a truly rounded sound on the record, which maintains the raw spirit of her debut, but showcases a development in her intuition for writing songs that continue to tap into both a personal and universal vein.

Whether she’s admiring the unique way the light defines her partner’s body on ‘Shoulderblades’, or feeling the walls closing in on ‘Last To Leave’, Reddy’s skill for revisiting a moment and making it more poignant – or more painful – than before is the lifeblood of Endless Affair. “It’s not just your drink you’re spilling / to anybody who will listen” she observes on the latter, over gentle beats and considered instrumentation, softening the awkward reality of the situation. It’s a relatable reflection on wanting to atone for potentially embarrassing behaviour – whether personally, or vicariously.

Reddy presents her emotions with endearing and at times excruciating honesty, learning to “take love where it’s planted” on the beautifully sincere ‘Bloom’, revealing the rawness of the wounds left by a breakup on ‘Damage’, and remembering a period of painful apathy on ‘Inhaling’. She explores all these things with charm, wit and impressive grace. This is especially true of ‘Pray For Me’ – dedicated to her late Grandmother – and moving ode ‘Motherhood’, which the songwriter nurtured and developed multiple times throughout the album’s recording process.

Whilst tenderness flows through the veins of Endless Affair, it’s also permeated with moments of recklessness and humour. This is epitomized especially by Reddy’s half-hearted attempts to verbally get under an ex’s skin on ‘ILYW’ (‘I’m Losing You’re Winning’), and the the rolling rhythms and energetic riffs on ‘A Mess’. A reflection on an early, chaotic relationship, the track is a buoyant rumination on the cyclical nature of bad habits and a lively effort to move past them. Whilst the repetition of the titular lyric ‘A Mess’ could sting if it was delivered differently, Reddy claims it as a lighthearted label, accepting that youth and inexperience are all part of the learning process when it comes to forming healthy relationships.

Ultimately, Endless Affair is a patient, earnest reflection on personal growth and a heartening reminder that we’re all just ‘Amateurs’ trying to make sense of the bruises that mysteriously materialise on our bodies the morning after we’ve had too much of a good time. It reaffirms Reddy’s astute songwriting sensibilities and is a tonic for any extended emotional hangover.

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Photo credit: Niamh Barry

Kate Crudgington

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