BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Declan O’Rourke sounds a lot like an old school folkie or English or Irish origin, and indeed his sturdy-sounding melodies and distinctive brogue would seem to have finding more in common with the likes of Archie Fisher or Ralph McTell. Yet, the fact that he’s acquired kudos from a number of knowing pundits back in his native U.K. indicates he’s on the cusp of wider recognition. No less than Paul Weller declared his song “Galileo” (included here as a live bonus track) “possibly the greatest song written in the last 30 years.”
That’s a heady assessment to be sure, and somewhat surprising considering O’Rourke’s mostly low-key designs. Still, who would want to quibble about someone with such a soothing and assuring touch. “The first thing I want you to know is that everything is going to be alright,” he promises on the affirmative anthem of sorts, “Be Brave and Believe.” Even when he boosts the tempo on a tune like “Caterpillar DNA,” the sentiments may sound edgy, but they’re never angry, and O’Rourke’s troubadour persona still maintains its even keel.
Mag Pai Zai — which translates from Brit-speak into “Magpie’s Eye” – represents O’Rourke’s Stateside debut, and while his traditional sorties may take American ears some getting used to. Nevertheless, with the success of Richard Thompson, Billy Bragg, Wesley Stace and other musicians who initially mined traditional trappings. If Paul Weller can offer such staunch kudos, who are we to disagree?
DOWNLOAD: “Be Brave and Believe,” “Caterpillar DNA”