This Friday one of the most anticipated Irish records of recent times is released. 'The Big Romance', an exceptionally beautiful collection of richly textured, tender-hearted songs, is David Kitt's major label debut. From support slots in Whelans when he was told to "cheer up" by an unamused member of the audience to last month's rapturous reception in a packed Vicar Street, David Kitt and his laid-back music have been gently infiltrating our lives and our record collections for some time now. First making an appearance on 1999's 'Come On Up To The House' compilation ep in the august company of The Frames and Jubilee Allstars, Kitt made many ears prick up with his Song From Hope St. (Brooklyn, NY) (now re-recorded and re-released as the first single from 'Romance'). Choosing to make his next appearance on vinyl, he contributed the woozy, dreamy instrumental Irma Vep to the Road Relish split singles club. Then Geoff Travis' resurrected indie label, Rough Trade, released the bedroom-recorded 'Small Moments' and now we get Kitt's first studio album proper, 'The Big Romance' on Blanco Y Negro.

'Small Moments' was the soundtrack to last summer's end, a snapshot of a time and place in Kitt's life that had a life far beyond the bedroom that it was mainly recorded in. "It was kind of surprising," says Kitt. "As far as I was concerned it was just something that I really needed to release for myself and for a few people around me who felt it was really important that I release it. So, in terms of the reaction, I was kind of shocked. I suppose there were a couple of things in there like 'Another Love Song' and 'Headphones' which would have been more accessible. The moments on the album that I'm most proud of are probably 'There Are Words' and 'Sound Fades With Distance'. They were two really nice moments of having a real sense of achievement at home with things that I'd done - I couldn't really work out how I'd done them, but it was just magic. I know there are people who won't like the way they're recorded - but I really like it." "Feel over finish," chimes in clarinet and sax player Diarmuid MacDiarmada who plays on the album and who, together with improvisational pianist Paul Smyth, makes up the onstage threesome that are the David Kitt live experience. "You could have an album of small details and nothing behind it. What's important is the 'something behind it' without necessarily all the bolts fully tightened."

Recording 'The Big Romance' in Area 51 studios was an opportunity to take a closer look at some of those bolts and figure out how to tighten them but initially it wasn't easy, according to Kitt. "When you're used to doing everything yourself at home, it was a very different headspace to be in. At first we were doing stuff in the studio and it wasn't sounding right. It wasn't sounding like me. Slowly, as you go through the process of recording, you pick up tricks, ways to make things sound warmer and less clinical. We put a lot of stuff back out through amps, got as much air into the recording as possible. It took about six months to figure out what were the ways to achieve the sound I wanted from the studio. But once I'd achieved that everything started to fall into place very quickly. It was the same kind of basic approach as 'Small Moments'; I'd put down the bass and the guitar and the keyboards and then Diarmuid played on four or five tunes and Paul played on a few tunes as well. There was no real time for hanging out. In a way it's nice 'cos then all the performances do have a little bit more of a live spark. It's a conscious effort to keep things as real as possible.'

Looking to the future, Kitt sees the next album as going in a different direction. "Some of it is going to be a lot noisier," he considers. "At the moment I think there's going to be more electric guitar on it. Unless there's a huge personal disaster in the meantime, I'd like to think it would be a very 'up' album. I kind of have an idea to do one slow laid back side and a really up soul groove side, a bit more lively on the beat front." But before all of that, there's the delicious fusion of trip-hop and acoustic folk that is the 'The Big Romance' - don't miss out on this summer's soundtrack.

Caroline Hennessy