Orla Gartland’s debut album, Woman on the Internet arrived to her long awaited fans this time last year, to long overdue aplomb from Irish musical pundits.
To celebrate the anniversary of this release, which was quickly followed by tours in the US and Europe, she has once again blessed us with her lyric dense, deeply personal songwriting talents in this rerelease of the debut in a new, extended edition.
Considering that the original release was not covered by OTwo last year, I’m going to take some time now to sing its merits - of which it has many. From the upbeat and nigh-satirical ‘Zombie’ to the sedate and heartbreaking ‘Do You Mind’, Gartland speaks in a tender voice to the modern age, bringing a much needed background noise to the wasteland that is being in your twenties and kind of broke.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that the opener, ‘Things That I’ve Learned’, isn’t the best on first listen, but like Cherry Lucozade, it holds you hostage until its gentle, words-to-the-wise style lyricism worms its way into your heart, and you find yourself thinking “Yes actually, every time I’ve bought jeans that I haven’t seen beforehand I do regret it!”. The track could probably do with a slightly more rounded production to offset the lyrics, but as is it serves the overall album well in how it establishes its tone; a little offbeat, a little naive, deeply interpersonal in its perspective, and keen to establish the significance in small details.
In contrast, the album comes to a head beautifully with its original closing track, ‘Bloodlines/Difficult Things’, a look into what makes us, who we are made in the image of, and if it's possible to break the cycles we find ourselves in. I have no hesitance in saying this is my personal favourite song on the album. On my first listen, upstairs on a Dublin bus, Gartland’s lilting refrain at the close of the song nearly brought me to tears. In a country beset by emigration and generational trauma, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t be impacted by this frank and emotional track.
It's no surprise that in the new, extended edition, it was this track she chose to include a live version of. Recorded in Dublin, the new track brings not only a sense of life to the close of the album, with the crowd's enthusiasm filtering through the on stage mics, but also an insight into Gartland's perspective on the album as she says a few words between the two halves of the song.
Also added for the anniversary are a remix of “Over Your Head’, a live studio version of ‘You’re Not Special, Babe’, and an acoustic version of ‘More Like You’, each interesting in their own right, but the key feature, I would argue, is the demo by the name of ‘Afterlife’ - sedate and heartrending, and a repeat listen for myself, at least. Gartland’s extended edition says one thing: expectations for the sophomore album are set very high.