Cormac O Caoimh is a classically trained guitarist but on his fourth album he seems more interested in expanding his song craft than showing off his fingerpicking.
Fortunately, he is also joined by Colum Petit on violin and Aoife Regan on backing vocals.The Cork-based artist has such a gentle, soft-pitched voice that an expanded sonic palette helps avoid things getting too mellow or soporific.
The twelve songs are elegant and complex attempts to get a grasp on intangible truths. The impressionistic and poetic lyrics are effective even though they are occasionally let down by sentimental banalities. Singing "You bring out the rainbow in me" in the title track just sounds plain soppy.
He is at pains to point out that this is not a concept album but, nevertheless, there are recurring themes of aging and identity. For example, on the opening track - Second Hand Clothes - he muses that when you "Run out of child, all that's left is man".
The responses to the passing of time range from pessimistic: "Time is like a curse" (Silence And Sound), to the fatalistic: "Time will tell" (Big Mirror) to the surrealistic: "Patience is too hard when time moves like a parked car" (A Parked Car).
In these songs, there is little which is transparent or obvious. The implicit meanings are that even the shiniest of things can get tarnished and that life's mysteries are both challenging and confusing.
Hiding In The Hollow Of An Old Oak is presented as one option although keeping Tea In My Teacup seems a more practical and civilised solution.
Cormac O Caoimh's website