Album Review: Cormac O Caoimh – The moon loses its memory
Words: Conor O’Toole
The Cork singer-songwriter’s 3rd solo album adds some very pleasing pop tones to his well-bedded folk sound. Previous album A new season for love stuck to a highly effective stripped back guitar/double bass/piano format. This time, however, a production heft is added by Cormac O’Connor which suggests an interesting new direction for O Caoimh’s yearning songs.
So for example, the title track has shades of Paddy McAloon or Martin Stephenson in its giddy, charming major seventh melody and brilliant wrongfooting tempo.
The welcome air of Prefab Sprout also crops up on the sparse and beguiling ‘You stole December’ and in the ethereal backing vocals of Aoife O’Regan on ‘Morning’. The songwriting too echoes McAloon’s preoccupation with the knotty travails of love and romance.
Cork ex-pat Colum Pettit contributes some beautiful soaring fiddle on ‘Solid’, against a very tasty electronic backbeat of pads and twinkles. Pettit also adds lovely French jazz-style bends and slides on ‘Place a letter on my front porch’, another deceptively simple musing on the “trouble with love”.
And the album ends majestically with ‘Similes and metaphors’, a beautifully breezy arrangement of pizzicato guitar showcasing a series of handsome vocal harmonies and counterpoints.
No song here runs over 3.20. Brevity is something quite unusual but most welcome in the world of singer-songwriters. Although with this album O Caoimh seems to be placing himself at an interesting arms-length remove from that genre. These songs are quick to the point and don’t hang around to admire themselves. And although the songwriting is quite indirect – lyrical even – and there’s plenty of soul-searching, the songs never feel overwrought. At times, you might say the lyrics border on sentimental – personally, I’m a fan of writers who push the boundaries in that respect. And most importantly the arrangements give the songs the settings they need.
This is an impressive album of folk-pop songs – it makes me look forward to O Caoimh’s next work already.