Jack O’Rourke’s second album ‘Wild Place’ sees the Cork songsmith building on his impressive debut record (2016’s ‘Dreamcatcher’) with a collection of captivating songs musing on a wide variety of themes: love, nature, and the many struggles of life in this ever-changing world. In exploring those themes O’Rourke draws influence from classic mythology to barstool stories and childhood memories, with a work that is both deeply personal and universal in experience.
Recorded in The Triskel and co-produced by Davie Ryan, the album has a warm authenticity and intimacy to it, at times it can almost feel like you are in the room where it was recorded. O’Rourke’s thematic explorations come to life here and are superbly enhanced by the unique resonance of what he refers to as the “Grand Piano of the Gods”.
This is perfectly illustrated on The Parting, a song centred on the end of a relationship “a parting dance kaleidoscoping, just out of time”, the gentle quivering strings and gorgeous layered vocals and shimmering Triskel piano combining to craft a song that is heartbreaking and hopeful all at once.
Patsy Cline flows with an uplifting sense of energy with a string arrangement and a subtle but hugely effective guitar line from Hugh Dillon. On his John Prine inspired opus Strange Bird O’Rourke pleads to leave the madness of the world behind and longs “to hold you tight, like it’s out of style”.
While the combination of O’Rourke’s exquisite playing and those sumptuous strings are impressive throughout, it’s his sublime writing that really impresses. Never has the settling of a pint of Guinness been so brilliantly and aesthetically described as on Opera on the Top Floor “the creamy head rising and landing like a chorus of hums”, a phrase that illustrates the beauty that sometimes lies hidden in the everyday and which perfectly juxtaposes the theme of the track.
The story of Odysseus inspires Ithaca, the final song on the album, it’s a gorgeously melancholic number with O’Rourke’s piano centre stage as he pleads “I could be your wanderlust, your journey’s end”. Proceedings are brought to a gentle melodic close with Timshel, a delicate instrumental that leaves us with a sense of hope for what may come next.
With ‘Wild Place’ O’Rourke has more than met expectations for his sophomore work which showcases his maturity as a creator of deeply moving, lyrically ornate compositions. It is a classically elegant album that shimmers with quality throughout.