Irish songwriting talent was on show in the Sugar Club with the debut solo album launch night of Oliver Cole last Saturday. Conall O’Breachain and John Duignan, both friends since childhood and also members of support band We Cut Corners, set the bar high with their performance. Five years ago, they proclaimed that they were here playing really quiet folk songs to a noisy audience. Tonight, they exorcise that experience with some loud and hugely powerful songs, but they also have some folk tunes left in their repertoire in the form of the childlike wonder of ‘Pirates Life’ and the heartbreaking tenderness that infuses ‘Dumb Blonde’. When Conall creeps out from behind his drum-kit, the performances with just two voices and an electric guitar are amongst the most powerful of the night. Recent radio sessions with both 2FM and Phantom 105.2, coupled with a slot on the upcoming IMRO showcase tour, surely point to a fantastic debut release sometime later this year.
Oliver Cole, the guy who most of the crowd are here to see, has been around a lot longer however. Gavin Fox who is on bass duties again tonight, has been playing music with Oliver for 14 years. Together their previous band, Turn, had a loyal following but tonight is all about the new songs – a debut album We Albatri three years in the making. Oliver explains the meaning of the album title from the stage: One night, he stayed up late watching TV and when it was suggested he go to bed, he declared that he was like an albatross, a bird who never rests, constantly staying in flight throughout its life.
How does this relate to the songs he played on the night? Well it’s a varied lot, ranging from the Lily Allen style pop of ‘Drug Song’ (his description, not ours) to the wonderful Elvis Costello liltings of ‘Moth’s Wing’. Turn were a three piece band but under a live “solo artist” guise, the stage swells to five members bestowing a well-rounded sound to his well crafted pop tunes. He always uses the words ‘we’ and never ‘I’, when referring to the songwriting. Oliver Cole is clearly enjoying where he is in his musical journey at this point in time, without forgetting the other musicians and friends he has around him.