DECLAN O’ROURKE – ” Arrivals “

Posted: January 1, 2022 in MUSIC
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I heard about O’Rourke’s new album in a piece about Paul Weller. “Arrivals” features O’Rourke’s first new material in two years and brings us the most emotionally raw and affecting album of his career. Produced by Paul Weller at Black Barn Studios, Surrey, the sound is stripped back to Declan’s soulful and resonant voice, the virtuosic acoustic guitar playing for which he’s renowned and only the occasional sparse arrangement of strings and late-night drums bringing colour and light to the LP’s 10 songs. Weller, a fan of Declan’s song writing for some years, also adds his multi-instrumental abilities, including a beautiful piano accompaniment, to the closing track. With Weller is in the producer’s chair and this seemed to suggest it might be worth sampling. Not long into ‘In Painters’ Light’, the album’s opening track, I was hooked and it soon felt like there was a logical link between this and Weller’s 2018 pastoral delight, ‘True Meanings’. “Arrivals” features O’Rourke’s first new material in two years and brings us the most emotionally raw and affecting album of his career.

While this record is exactly the sort of thing that pithy ‘also released’ review round-ups tag singer-songwriter and move on, there’s much more to it than O’Rourke’s weathered voice and acoustic guitar. Not that those two ingredients aren’t excellent, but when lyrics add “Johnny cooks a steak from Lidls on a Friday night” and “when you live by the weather every wind has a tail” it ensures you don’t treat ‘Arrivals’ as background music.

Sympathetic but understated strings mix with delicate organ parts as O’Rourke paints landscapes, toys with narratives and gets under the listener’s skin. Fans of the late, great Gavin Clark could find an echo of his masterful communication in these skilfully arranged tracks. A slow-burning delight, Give it time and attention and you may find yourself similarly smitten.

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