also has thousands of articles and pieces of content that are free to access to anyone, including it's latest music news, photo galleries, web exclusive interviews. To subscribe to Hot Press, & The Hot Press i Pad Edition for just €69.95 go here To learn more about member benefits, go to HERE Helped by Aaron Dessner to overcome her chronic writer's block, Lisa Hannigan has conjured up a career-defining new album, At Swim, worth every second of the five-year wait.

David Bowie, Paul Simon, Seamus Heaney, Brendan Gleeson, repealing the 8th, and those lovely boys from The National are all on the agenda as she meets Stuart Clark.

"It never happened that way before," explained Hannigan, whose previous two albums were 2008's . Asked if that's something that frequently happens in her life, Hannigan laughed while drawing out her rambunctious reply. And certainly not from somebody like Aaron Dessner, whose work I really love and admire. He had a very strong idea of how he heard the record sounding. So I think he was familiar somewhat with my work before. So, yeah, I don't know whether somebody's been watching over me or it's just pure ridiculous luck but I'm very grateful for it." It's too easy to chalk it up to the luck of the Irish, though.

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While becoming transfixed by singers, Lisa developed a "recurring fascination with the sea" that's evident in many of her songs, both old ("Sea Song," "A Sail") and new ( "is definitely a bit darker in subject matter" than her previous albums, but her bright, cheerful explanations prove that light does shine through the shadows. It's not as depressing as the song titles would suggest," Hannigan said with a laugh, enjoying a chance to have a little fun at her own expense.

"But there are more darker themes in the record, which is not a bad thing, I don't think." On a record with lush instrumentation, Dessner not only produced but also makes significant contributions (piano, bass, Rhodes, guitars, drums, OP-1 synthesizer) along with a few more musicians.

While she might be all about aggressive banjo solos and adventurous videos (check out her paint-drenched , left), any kind of seaworthy vessel must be a fixture, too. "I think I sort of associate it with feeling free and feeling washed," Hannigan said. There's a sumptuous-sounding record on the way, plans to add to her songbook, create more inventive music videos and make visits all over the world to locations ordinary and exotic before the everlasting return to her homeland.

Though her Dublin residence isn't exactly near the sea, "I can sort of see it on a good day," Hannigan joked. "Whenever things are really bad, there's something about the vastness and the power of the sea I think that puts you back into place. "I am much happier" now, she exclaims, recalling those dark days in London, where writing songs was like "climbing a giant hill." After surviving that endurance test, Hannigan finally appears to be in shipshape.

"It sounds to me very obviously like oars in a boat and it felt like the song was traversing in some sort of body of water and you could hear the push and the pull on the oars and the hauling then of the vessel," she said.

The music video for "Ora," the next planned project, sounds as intriguing as the song.

And I had this line in my head and ideas to work it out on the banjo.

And it actually just worked so well," producing an aggressive sound "that only the banjo can bring." The easiest lyrics came to Hannigan while she was at home folding clothes and listening to a "very visually arresting" piano backing Dessner emailed for "Ora," one of three songs they co-wrote.

"That will always be home," Hannigan said of Ireland, where her family still lives.