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Cormac O CaoimhCormac O Caoimh
Album: Shiny Silvery Things
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 12
Website: http://www.cormacocaoimh.net

Back in 2014, the Cork singer-songwriter made quiet waves with his third album The Moon Loses Its Memory, gaining a favourable review on this very site, so I was kindly disposed towards its followup Shiny Silvery Things, which came out three or four months back (albeit to comparatively little fanfare).

It's described as an old-school album, in that it espouses many moods within the approved singer-songwriter template and delivers catchy tunes to match - the very qualities for which his 2014 album had been hailed, in fact. But coming new to Cormac's music, I find it at the same time not exactly easy to describe, indeed often curiously elusive, this despite the quirky style of his writing that seems to speak personally to you, involving and engaging your emotions on the spot yet less in retrospect. There's also something of a late-70s/early-80s indie/new-wave feel about Cormac's inspiration (The Cure? Robyn Hitchcock? Smiths? or maybe I'm being fanciful?), and while he makes good capital out of deceptively uncomplicated musical settings (guitars, keyboards, drums, occasional violin or sax) there's little that stands out in profile to distract from Cormac's own performance or the lyrics, which I guess is all to the good in the end. Having said that, the doomier aura of the longest song, A Parked Car, hints at the promise and virtue of a little freer experimentation.

There are a number of tracks that I'd earmark to hear again very soon - Silence And Sound, Proud, Tea In My Teacup perhaps - but equally there are several that didn't make any real musical impression even if lines within the lyrics did strike home. The good thing is that the introspective nature of Cormac's lyrics does not exclude his listeners. The downside is that the thoughtful nature of those lyrics is, more often than not, mildly negated by a less than interesting (or plain repetitive) or slightly undercooked melodic content, as on Born and Hey You. And on the swinging title song, Cormac's style, while gently engaging, can seem almost too warm and mellow for the discreet lyric; at other times, his sentiments are more uplifting yet just as honest.

The album's press release mentions Cormac's stated exploration of new musical territory in the form of "indie poppy jazzy folk blues", but listening to the disc I increasingly feel he shouldn't need to resort to such forecasts and gambits and let his songs speak without limp categorisation. (And should we also be reflecting that the disc itself is a shiny silvery thing?)

David Kidman