With her lazy southern drawl and her beaten and bruised collection of broken-hearted songs, Gemma Hayes should by all rights have grown up in Backwoods, U.S.A., not Tipperary, Ireland. With its campfire laments on life, love, and escape, Hayes’s debut–part brooding alt-rock, part hushed acoustic folk–is filled with deadbeat introspection. Yet, Night on My Side plays more like a set of wee-hour diary confessions and captured moments than a cathartic venting session. It’s not what she says, but the passion with which she says it that makes her songs so phenomenally poignant. Aided by Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann, Hayes doesn’t merely tell tales, she conjures full-blooded emotions. On “Back of My Hand,” for example, the details of unrequited love are irrelevant–it’s the sinking feeling that counts. And when the Radiohead-strength chorus of “Let a Good Thing Go” crashes and the speaker-tearing white noise and guitar overdrive erupt in “Lucky One,” they deliver a sense of loss like no words ever could.