Review: Cormac O’Caoimh – The Moon Loses Its Memory

It took five years to make but Cormac O’Caoimh’s second album was certainly worth the wait. Whereas previous releases from The Citadels and his solo debut promised much, 2012’s ‘A New Season For Love’ showed consistent indie-folk class; earning well-warranted comparisons with Ben Watt and Kings Of Convenience as well as stage-sharing experiences with compatriots Declan O’Rourke and Damien Rice. Presumably flushed with new-found confidence, O’Caoimh has taken only a fraction of the time to bring out ‘The Moon Loses Its Memory’ and it continues the rich vein of form.

Cormac O'Caoimh Album Cover

‘The Moon Loses Its Memory’ introduces itself in rather gentle, upbeat fashion and opener ‘Maze Of Your Heart’ sounds even more joyous when Aoife Regan joins in on backing vocals. However, like a few of moments on here it ends too briefly. This is an album where fourteen songs are packed into less than forty minutes, after all. Yet crucially, most songs here are long and deep enough to leave a lasting impression. On the delightful ‘Yellow Crumbs’ and the closing ‘Similes And Metaphors’, for example, it’s like hearing Prefab Sprout’s Paddy McAloon and Wendy Smith team up again. Meanwhile, the title track and its moody feel recalls the rainy day atmospherics of the previous album and ‘Basement’ finds fun with an experimental, staccato arrangement.

The variety continues towards the middle of the record. The acoustic simplicity of ‘You Stole December’ contrasting sharply with the full-bodied production of ‘Man Of Sand’ but each are fine songs in their own right. It is light melancholia which is O’Caoimh real strength, though, exemplified in the rolling melody of ‘Morning’ where he reflects on aging and romance with lines such as “My senses are for hire. I’m selling them if the price is right” and then proceeding to hope that his partner will “stay around until the morning”. He’s better in this form than cheery but less substantial material such as ‘Place A Letter On My Porch’. As we near the end of the record, there’s another dramatic twist as darkness unfolds in the words of ‘Silver As Mercury’ where a pretty melody contradicts the self-critical lyrics (“A glitch in my brain. A click in my head. I can’t stop causing hurt causing pain”) and on the next track, ‘Burning Coal’, even the instruments begin to turn into a particularly bleak form of folk music.

So it’s an album which switches from lightness to darkness and all points in between. Throughout the album, O’Caoimh is given sterling support by Regan, Colum Pettit’s violin and multi-instrumentalist Cormac O’Connor. However, his warm, intimate vocals and intricate yet free-flowing guitar playing are the real joys here, ensuring O’Caoimh’s star still shines bright.

Web Sites:
Cormac O’Caoimh Official Site
Bandcamp Stream for Cormac O’Caoimh – The Moon Loses Its Memory
Cormac O’Caoimh Youtube Channel

Further Listening:
Prefab Sprout, Ben Watt, Kings Of Convenience, Declan O’Rourke

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