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DAMIEN O’KANE - Avenging & Bright

DAMIEN O’KANE - Avenging & Bright
Pure Records PRCD46

From the opening, atmospheric strains of Avenging & Bright, it is clear that on this third album from Damien O’Kane, he is continuing on his mission to present the traditional songs of his native Ireland in a contemporary, modern setting. Here, many songs garnered from old collections have been given new tunes and very contemporary arrangements by Damien. Alongside, there are some more familiar songs (January Man, The Homes Of Donegal), one from wife Kate Rusby, and a pair of tunes.

Damien sings in his natural, unaffected Coleraine accent, which is always a pleasure and can’t be faulted. The musicianship is equally flawless. The sound is lush and almost other-worldly in places, and the recording quality as good as we have come to expect of a Pure release. There are times, though, when I feel that either the new tunes or the arrangements become a bit ‘samey’. I keep listening out for Damien’s trademark tenor banjo, or tenor guitar. They are still there, but you have to listen a bit harder for them behind all the synths, pads and programming.

I appreciate what Damien is doing, and he does it very well, but when I listen to traditional songs I’d rather they sounded at least slightly traddy! Over the course of his three solo albums he has been moving more in this direction – I prefer the Summer Hill end of the scale, I’m afraid. But that said, this is a very pleasant listening experience and sure to please many.

Fiona Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 123 of The Living Tradition magazine.