American audiences were first exposed to the talents of Lisa Hannigan earlier this decade when she was recording and touring with Damien Rice as a backup singer. Now the Irish singer/songwriter has struck out on her own as a solo artist and signed to ATO, which will issue her solo debut, "Sea Sew," on Jan. 20.

The effort was recorded in Dublin over two weeks earlier this year, but had been years in the making. "I've always been writing, but I never performed those songs for people. I spent six years creating music with Damien and gathering more confidence," Hannigan told Billboard recently. "If I had had more time . . ."

The 10-track set is enhanced with strings, horn, harmonium, organ and acoustic guitar as Hannigan's breezy voice harmonizes with itself. She released the effort through her own label in her native country in September. Beforehand, Hannigan also supplied two songs to the benefit album "The Cake Sale," released in 2006.

Fans can get a taste of "Sea Sew" while the 27-year-old opens for Jason Mraz through the end of the month. She has performed in the United States on four other tours with Rice, which is how she originally appeared on Mraz' radar. "I'm not planning on leaning on Damien's name, but I'm well-aware that's how audiences here know me. I mean, that's what got me here," she says.

Several "Sea Sew" songs are currently streaming on Hannigan's Web site.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard