Jack O’Rourke is back with a new album coming out tomorrow. Photo: Miki Barlok

Wild and wonderful

A familiar figure has re-emerged from the murky mist of a forgotten year and is now ready to unleash a new album into the Irish music landscape.

Jack O’Rourke’s ‘Wild Place’ drops tomorrow and is his first release since 2019 single ‘Ivory Tower’.

As the name might suggest, Jack approached the new album with a sense of wild abandon, opening himself up completely in some of his most emotionally raw and poetic song writing to date.

This is evident in the three tracks already released off the record: ‘Opera on the Top Floor’, ‘Patsy Cline’, and ‘Sea Swimming’, in which he explores the links between literature and nature, inspirations, the wildness of love, and healing from grief.

“‘Wild Place’ has songs of love and loss, beautiful misfits, nature and wilderness,” explains Jack.

He adds: “There's freedom and rage in there too, alongside questions on race, friendship, a still-Covid world, my dreams and sea swimming. The piano and vocal are centre, but there are elements of folk, roots, blues, Americana and chamber music.”

Jack then talks about a specific song on the record called ‘Strange Bird’, influenced by American country folk singer John Prine and told from the perspective of a drone recording a town from the sky during lockdown, taking note of all we’ve lost and gained.

“When John Prine died during Covid, it was a Bowie or Cohen or Prince moment, I was heartbroken without knowing him personally, his lyrics and his style meant so much, and his song writing always floored me.

“There’s a Steinbeck or Mark Twain quality, he says so much without being flowery.”

‘Wild Place’ will be Jack’s first full album release since 2016’s critically acclaimed ‘Dreamcatcher’ after first coming to prominence with his song ‘Silence’, an ode to misunderstood youth and growing up gay in modern Ireland.

The tune became a torch song for the Irish Marriage Equality Referendum and won the Nashville Songwriting Competition with judges including Tom Waits and Bill Withers.

In the intervening years, Jack has established himself as one of Ireland's finest songsmiths and a live favourite nationwide.

For the recording of the new album, he and his band based themselves in Triskel Christchurch in Cork city, using the famed venue’s incredible acoustics and grand piano to great effect.

This time around, Jack teamed up with members of Crash Ensemble, Clare Sands, Hugh Dillon and Aisling Fitzpatrick, with a live quality brought to the songs by Ber Quinn's mixing.

Jack's long standing drummer, David Ryan, produced the album, despite not using drums on any of the tracks and it was mastered in Canada by Philip Shaw.

The results are probably the Corkman’s most endearing work to date with each of its 12 tracks emanating from a place of soulful and folk-inspired energies.

The three singles have all received extensive airplay on the country's airwaves and Jack is set to take to the road with the new album over the coming weeks.

Well known for his captivating live performances, Jack will be bringing the music of ‘Wild Place’ to life doing what he loves best – seated at a piano and his soul with his audience.

‘Wild Place’ comes out tomorrow and Jack will be finishing his tour in Triskel Christchurch on 27 November.

For more information, visit jackorourkesongs.com.