N4 Records/The Daisy Label – 2004 – 46 minutes

A native of Dublin, Declan O'Rourke has spent the past five years touring the country, playing with acts such as Planxty and Paddy Casey. His debut album is an assured, competent collection, mixing traditional Irish airs with a contemporary sound.

Written and produced by O'Rourke, 'Since Kyabram' showcases a unique talent. The poetry of the songs, particularly the ballad 'We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea' creates stunning images for the listener and evokes the dreamy nature of O'Rourke's lyrics.

There is also a fusion of traditional Irish music with modern sounds. Even in the up-tempo tracks such as 'Your World' and 'No Brakes' the distinct Irishness of O'Rourke's gravelly voice shines through. These songs meld both rock and folk traditions through O'Rourke's voice and his lyrics.

Then there are the genuine folk songs, like 'Marrying the Sea', that revive the Irish ballad for a new generation. Unfortunately though, there isn't much to sing along to – 'Your World' perhaps being the exception. This might make 'Since Kyabram' seem forgettable, which is a pity because there's a lot of talent here.

'Since Kyabram' is a promising debut, which will, no doubt, garner a broad appeal for O'Rourke.

Katie Moten

Tracklisting: No Place to Hide – Birds of a Feather – Galileo (Someone Like You) – Your World – No Brakes – We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea – 1-Way Minds – Love is the Way – Sarah (Last Night in a Dream) – Everything is Different – Marrying the Sea – 'Til Death Do Us Part (Instrumental)