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Mag Pai Zai
Declan O'Rourke Mag Pai Zai
Released 8 April 2011
Producer Declan O'Rourke
Label Rimecoat Records
Length 48:16
Genre Folk, rock
Website www.declanorourke.com

After a three year break since his last album Big Bad Beautiful World Declan O’Rourke is back with his latest release, Mag Pai Zai. The result is well worth the wait. Fans of O’Rourke won’t be disappointed by the moody yet playful singer-songwriter sound that O’Rourke has very much made his own, but O’Rourke has also brought a lot of new energy to this album. The result is a sound which picks up from where O’Rourke’s previous albums left off, but quickly veers off in a new direction.

While O’Rourke’s typical acoustic sound comes out on songs like 'Time Machine' and lead single 'A Little Something', the real highlights of Mag Pai Zai are tracks like the achingly beautiful piano ballad 'Langley’s Requiem' and the bluesy, Neil Young-like 'Caterpillar DNA', which move away from the sound you would expect from O’Rourke. And it is this experimentation which really makes Mag Pai Zai so good. O’Rourke is clearly not afraid to try out something new, and while some of this results in forgettable tracks like 'The Hardest Fight', Mag Pai Zai is mostly a brilliant collection of music.

The sheer emotional impact O’Rourke is capable of is nowhere more evident than 'Langley’s Requiem' a piano led track with harsh, powerful lyrics and a slow burning intensity. It is also evidence of O’Rourke’s amazing storytelling ability, in this case the story of homelessness, love and death. There is also a great range of instruments on show across the eleven tracks. O’Rourke plays electric and acoustic guitars, as well as the mandolin on 'Slieve Bloom' and even the Ukulele on 'Lightning Bird Wind River Man'. He’s also backed up by violins, cellos and piano played by a range of talented musicians.

The final track on the album, 'The Old Black Crow', is evidence that however talented a musician O’Rourke is, he still doesn’t take himself too seriously. A ballad mourning the discrimination faced by the humble crow, O’Rourke barks (or maybe caws) out some brilliantly off-beat lyrics. "Who wakes up the cockerel?" asks O’Rourke in a wonderfully gravelly voice, "the old black crow".

- Bernard O’Rourke