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Damien O'Kane - Areas of High Traffic (Pure Records)

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With a particularly strong sense of his Northern Irish roots, Damien O'Kane delivers an excellent album of traditional material, each selection crafted with a contemporary feel and tasteful arrangement. The songs, a good few of which derive from the Shamrock, Rose and Thistle collection, a noted source covering the folk singing traditions of North Derry, including rather gracefully rendered readings of The Maid of Seventeen, The Close of an Irish Day and most notably The Banks of the Bann, a song which O'Kane takes enormous pride in, having been raised by those very banks. One or two of the songs have clearly been learned from the inspirational collection of Planxty, Andy Irvine and Paul Brady LPs that presumably took pride of place in the O'Kane home during those formative years. I am a Youth, is treated to the respect it thoroughly deserves, a song previously performed by Brady in those much missed days before he went off to be a transatlantic pop star. With a mature arrangement together with some empathetic musicianship, the song reaches the present day whilst losing none of its original power. With themes of identity, emigration, homesickness and nostalgia, Damien O'Kane creates a soundscape that truly honours his birth right. Wrapped in a cover that could for all intents and purposes be the new Tom Cruise action movie poster, the album sees O'Kane surrounded by a choice gathering of musicians and technicians, including Cormac Byrne on drums and percussion, Steven Iveson on guitar, Anthony Davis on keyboards and bass and Joe Rusby assisting with production, as well as one or two guest appearances by Kate Rusby and Union Station's Ron Block on banjo. A top notch album for sure.     

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky

Show Number: 401
Airplay Date: 11.11.15
Track Played: I Am a Youth
Release Date: 09.11.15
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