The secondary school teacher from Ovens, County Cork with strong Limerick connections via Caherconlish is on the crest of a wave. Jack O’Rourke talks to Limerick Post about his new single On The Downlow and makes no apologies for his eclectic musical styles
Jack O’Rourke released his debut album in September to widespread acclaim for his honest lyrical narratives, his blues/jazz references and his ability to form passionate pop songs all delivered in his world-weary baritone.
His early releases came to the attention of RTE Radio One listeners. Presenter Fiachna O’Braonáin is a big fan saying Jack’s music has a “grace and a glory to it that will stop you in your tracks”.
“RTE Radio One has been very good to me,” the singer agrees.
“‘Shining For You’ and ‘Naivety’ got a lot of radio play but ‘Silence’ until after the SameSex Marriage referendum didn’t get played.”
His song ‘Silence’ became the anthem for Yes side publicity in the referendum. It is a plaintive song telling the story that is repeated in small towns and villages throughout the country.
A brush without a painter on a canvas black with hopeless denial
But walk like a man keep your shoulders broad
Ease up on the mincing you’ll fit in with the crowd
(Silence by Jack O’Rourke)
Jack performed this Amnesty International endorsed anthem ‘Silence’ on the Late Late Show and he understands why radio stations didn’t play it regularly.
“It wasn’t a call to arms but it was used in the Yes campaign so politically the radio stations couldn’t be biased.”
“It is not a subject that is written about in pop music. I needed to write it for myself. A lot of people got in contact after they heard it to say that was their story too. it humanised the referendum and made it less scary for the opposite side.”
The song ‘Silence’ also won the International Songwriting Competition Lyrics Category selected by judges including Tom Waits and Bill Withers.
Reviews of this seriously good debut album have been overwhelmingly positive with some complaining that the music is a hotchpotch collection without a uniform sound in no definable genre.
The album went some way to answering that criticism by going top twenty on its first week of release. A fine success for an independent artist without the backing of a record company who makes no apologies for his broad musical palette.
“It is quite an eclectic album. I think every song is entered around the piano and my voice no matter what the genre or the sentiment in it.
“I think it is very important that everyone has got too caught up with pigeon holing artists. You need a point of departure and you need a sound I think I have that with my piano and voice but I have been always very eclectic in my tastes. The album is an indicator of that.
“Also because it is the first album the songs have been written over a long period of time.
“What you are listening to and getting turned onto musically is quite eclectic for that reason too.”
Current single is ‘On the Downlow’ and is another departure musically matching bittersweet melancholy with pulsating dance rhythms.
“I wanted that song to be a throwback to ‘I Drove All Night’. The song written for Roy Orbison but made famous by Cyndi Lauper in the late 80’s.
The finished product comes across like an uptempo John Grant tune with some fine drumming on the track by Christian Best.
The single is merged with a visually rich music video, directed by Barra Vernon featuring choreography by Megan Blythe and the dancers Philip O’ Callaghan and Lisa Hayes.
Some of O’Rourke’s material is percussive as is his piano playing and some of his album could be re-imagined for dancefloor crossover.
“I’m very interested in electronic music and I want to bring out an EP of dance mixes of tracks from the album next year. It would be really nice to get DJs that I really like to remix it.”
A challenge to the DJ/Producers to make Jack O’Rourke’s ambition happen and take Dreamcatcher to the dancefloor.
Jack O’Rourke plays Dolan’s this Saturday November 12.