Jack O’Rourke is one of those mercurial artists whose musical imagination and personality has made him an intriguing entity to his many fans.
A songwriter who first came to prominence with his ode to misunderstood youth, ‘Silence’ - which became a torch song for the Irish Marriage Equality Referendum - Jack went on to release his debut album Dreamcatcher to massive acclaim, peaking at No.5 in the Irish album charts and drawing huge critical praise – Tony Clayton Lea calling it “a seriously good album from a seriously good songwriter” in The Ticket and Lauren Murphy describing it as “a highly accomplished debut” in The Sunday Times.
Jack’s voice - a rich baritone capable of ethereal falsetto, wraps around his tunes like a waif. Hunched around a piano, Jack is a subtle and intense performer, “showing a deftness when it comes to dissecting the minutiae of relationships and examining the human condition in a manner worthy of lyrical forebears Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits”, Don Johnston, The Irish Examiner
A natural melody writer, with chord changes unexpected yet familiar, as a lyricist, Jack manages to combine that most difficult and delicate of writing traits – the ability to convey the personal whilst making it universal. A key to his success to date is having made himself identifiable to music fans of many tastes, yet still keeping enough in the background to make further investigation a necessity. From winning the Nashville-based International Songwriting Award to playing his Dreamcatcher album live with an orchestra at Cork Opera House, Jack’s fledgling career has been conspicuous by its high water marks and now the songwriter is set to embark on another phase of his journey.
The piano always remains central to what Jack does. Comparisons have been drawn over the initial years to various musicians (Bowie, Kate Bush, John Grant, Guy Garvey) However, the further Jack embarks into his own musical oeuvre, his own identity has begun to emerge and it is one that has its roots in a classic troubadour tradition, but with a modern and contemporary twist. Synths, cellos and clarinets – whatever serves the song. The Corkman’s grasp of a song has led to several notable collaborations to date; namely with Glen Hansard at Other Voices, the Irish Chamber Orchestra at Vicar St, vocals with Imelda May, Hot House Flowers and Bell X1, while joining the Freezer Room ensemble at Electric Picnic with the likes of Wallis Bird and Tracy K. His collaboration with electronic producer Kormac has yielded the hit ‘New Day’ with almost half a million views on YouTube to date.
After touring Dreamcatcher extensively, including sold out shows throughout Ireland and his first forays to London and Paris, Jack has recently returned to studio to begin its follow-up. This summer he bucked a well-trod seasonal trend of the music industry by delivering a slow-burning, grandiose opus to radio in ‘Myth’. An epic tune underpinned by Grecian mythology, ‘Myth’ proved a hit across the country’s airwaves and showed an uncompromising side to O’Rourke and one that was daring to take his music to new and interesting places. The next single ‘Ivory Towers’ may well surprise listeners who think they may have Jack figured out.
It has been a compelling journey to this point, but the next phase looks likely to be the one that brings Jack to an even bigger audience. In the tradition of Ray Charles, Jack has the soul of a piano man with deep roots, yet with a sense of adventure that will see it difficult to remain in a complacent, safe place musically. Jack’s new EP in 2019 will shed new light on the direction this most captivating of Irish songwriters is likely to go. We wait with great anticipation . . .