Album review: DAMIEN O’KANE – Avenging & Bright

DAMIEN O'KANE - Avenging & Bright

Pure Records [Release date 08.12.17]

Damien O’Kane’s album ‘Areas Of High Traffic’, released last year, was nominated for ‘Album Of The Year’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Based on this new album that is hardly surprising as in the main he takes traditional folk songs and adds his own, modern musical spin on them. The sound is not traditional folk, as guitars are the main instruments used, along with the synths/keyboards playing of Anthony Davis, which really adds a modern sound to the songs.

There is so much to savour and enjoy on this album, with highlights including the beautiful ‘Lately’, written by his wife Kate Rusby, who also joins him on the song. The instrumental ‘Dancing In Puddles’ features Ron Block guesting on banjo – a tune written for his daughter Daisy. Damien O’Kane has a wonderfully soothing vocal that really gives expression to the traditional Irish tunes like ‘The Homes Of Donegal’.

‘January Man’ is the real stand out, not only for the lyric (this song has been covered by Christy Moore amongst others), but the music with the synths/keys adding an almost prog rock feel to the proceedings. The guitar playing is stunning, hats off to Steven Byrnes and Steve Iveson, plus Damien, for this. Indeed if you enjoy Big Big Train there is much on this album that you’d enjoy.

Thoroughly enjoyable album from start to finish, cleverly mixing folk, a little prog and electronic music to great effect.  ****

Review by Jason Ritchie


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