Laois singer-songwriter pushes folk music into new territory


Leinster Express Reporter


Leinster Express Reporter

With stirring songs that shine a light on the hidden emotions people carry within, Laois man James O’Connor has become a mainstay on the folk scene in Ireland and the UK.

O’Connor released his first LP in 2014 and has been earning considerable critical praise with every subsequent release.  His newest album shows him taking a remarkable artistic step forward. 

The appropriately titled ‘A Cluster of Narratives’ is defined by a sense of exploration, both sonically and lyrically.  The opening track serves as a mission statement, with James repeating the memorable hook

“We are the stories we leave behind" over a kaleidoscopic blend of guitars and meandering synths.  Storytelling is clearly O’Connor’s greatest strength, as each song on the album goes on to introduce complex characters looking for joy and salvation in a cruel world.

“While I admit to all my wrongs, I leave the past where it belongs,” James sings on the title track.  The struggle to reconcile the past and future is a powerful recurring theme.  ‘Why Did She Stay’ tells the story of a charmed romance disintegrating into an abusive relationship while ‘Average City Street’ tackles different generation’s abilities to understand each other.  While these topics sometimes make for an uncomfortable listen, O’Connor’s empathy and wit transform them into beautiful songs worthy of celebration.

‘A Cluster of Narratives’ is available everywhere Friday, July 3.

Listen on soundcloud here