So where would you start if you wanted to assign a label to Cormac O Caoimh? It’s so diverse you would need a bucketload of tags and then you’d spend hours agonising over which order to put them in. Life’s too short, so let’s just go for eclectic. If you take the melodic romanticism of Paddy McAloon and throw in a bit of Neil Hannon’s Gaelic whimsy, you might begin to grasp the completely original sound of Cormac O Caoimh. Prefab Comedy or Divine Sprout? You decide; either way, there are twelve beautifully-crafted songs here that are set like jewels in arrangements and stylings that transform them into, well, “Shiny Silvery Things”.
There’s poetry and mysticism in the lyrics throughout the album and the musical settings range from the lush strings and gorgeous choral harmonies of “Silence and Sound” to the jazz swing and rich baritone vocal of the title track, to the spiky guitar fills packed with accidentals (or should that be deliberates) and free-form jazz sax of “A Parked Car”. And there’s more guitar atonality in “In the Hollow of an Old Oak”, the slightly sour tone contrasting with the spirituality of the lyrics. Along the way, there are a few more gems. “Proud” roars in with an intro that’s somewhere between “Get Back” and “David Watts” before Cormac launches into a one-man call and response vocal, and the gentle “Tea in my Teacup” emphasises the value of the simpler things in life as an antidote to the complicated world outside.
The comparisons with Prefab Sprout are impossible to avoid; every melody’s an earworm, the lyrics are poetic and thought-provoking (there’s even an Atlantis reference) and Aoife Regan’s vocals have more than a hint of Wendy Smith, but there’s also a Gaelic twist to the album that gives it a unique character. Sublime.
“Shiny Silvery Things” is released on Friday April 28.