Declan O'Rourke Live in Athy
First time appearance in unique setting...
Fri 27 Jan 2012
- Venue Details
Not that you’d know it from his startling maturity as a songwriter, but 35-year-old Declan O'Rourke was a latecomer to the Dublin singer-songwriter scene. Despite having a keen interest in music and singing from an early age, it was during his teenage years spent in Melbourne that he first got hold of a guitar. O’Rourke was exposed to a different cultural aesthetic at this point which, coupled with his own well-formed cultural identity, may account for his unique style of melody and melancholia.
Back living in Australia in his early-twenties, his life back then was captured - not just figuratively - between creativity and cement: as he slowly honed his craft as a songwriter, he worked by day on building sites. His hands became, “more calloused by guitar playing than by manual labour,” he laughs. By the time he was twenty-four, having still never played his own material to a live audience, he felt it was time to scratch the songwriting itch or forever regret it. Back to Dublin, then. Somehow, home soil felt like the right place to start.
Within a month, upon discovering Dublin's bustling songwriter open-mic circuit, Declan found himself mixing and trading songs with the likes of Paddy Casey, Gemma Hayes and many other Irish singer-songwriters. “I went to as many open mic nights as possible and just played anywhere I could,” he recalls. “And it went on from there. Every step up was an achievement. I was always looking at the next step ahead of me and really enjoying it. It hasn’t stopped since.”
In 2004, Declan released his debut album, Since Kyabram. He regards the comfortably haunting debut as little more than a collection of songs and an introduction to the different styles he subsequently intended to use. “I was also trying to break the moany singer-songwriter myth – I definitely didn’t want to be put into that category.”
'Galileo (Someone Like You),' the debut single from Since Kyabram, has been covered by Josh Groban and performed by Paul Weller. Declan will perform 'Galileo' at the opening ceremony of the Solheim Cup 2011.
Such was the critical and commercial success of the album in Ireland that it opened the doors for him internationally, earning him plaudits from the likes of Paul Weller and Jonathan Ross, each of whom were rapturous in their praise of Declan’s deep-honey voice and astute song writing abilities.
His follow-up album in 2007, Big Bad Beautiful World, easily consolidated his appeal in Ireland as well as with his growing list of well-connected champions. Support slots followed in the UK and Europe to the likes of Snow Patrol, Teddy Thompson, The Cardigans, Paulo Nutini, Badly Drawn Boy, Divine Comedy and Paul Weller, and before too long major labels started calling, siren-like, for his signature on the dotted line.
O’Rourke has since been through the major label mill and come out the other side – smiling (eventually!), we’re glad to say.
“I had a great relationship with the people who worked with me on the first two records,” he admits. “I’d been reading for years about people having control of their own music, so I felt it was time to start. I’m sure I’ve made the right decision.”
He’s a free man, then, with a free frame of mind, and a new record label he can, quite literally, call his own. And on his new record label he releases his third album and first independent offering, MAG PAI ZAI, which sees him maturing as a songwriter in ways he would, most likely, have never thought possible.
MAG PAI ZAI, released in April '11, managed to top the success of Declan's first two albums, holding its own in the top 10 for four consecutive weeks. 'A Little Something,' the album's debut single, received much airplay, climbing to the no. 2 spot in the Today FM Top 40. Both singles released to date, 'A Little Something,' and 'Time Machine' were Single of the Week.
Declan recently performed 'A Little Something,' and 'Galileo' from his debut album, at the BBC Last Night of the Proms with the Ulster Orchestra in Castle Park, Bangor.
In a Q Magazine interview, Paul Weller was asked what song in the last 20 years he most wished he’d written and he chose Declan's ”Galileo." Declan's latest album MAG PAI ZAI was released in April 2011.Word is getting out, slowly but very surely, about Declan O’Rourke’s songwriting skills. Don’t be the last to find out
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