By Greg Kot
Updated January 14, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST

Sea Sew‘s cover art, depicting Lisa Hannigan’s handiwork, reflects the homespun intimacy of the Irish singer’s debut. She’s got a strong track record as a backing vocalist with Damien Rice, Herbie Hancock, and Snow Patrol, and her whispery, confiding voice makes this the perfect album for cozying up by the fire on a winter-chilled Sunday afternoon. Cello, violin, piano, and harmonium paint delicate pastel colors, but the arrangements rarely sound wimpy or morose. Hannigan may be introspective, but she knows how to coax a melody into the sunlight. B+

Download This: Listen to song’s from the new album on the singer’s official site