Folk singer Damien O’Kane has collaborated with a number of other artists and acts down through the years, but it was his 2010 solo endeavour Summer Hill that really put him on the map. Winning a lot of accolades and acclaim, it represented a significant step forward for the Northern Irish native’s career. Now he seems set to repeat his success in 2016 with his latest album, Areas of High Traffic.

Featuring eleven tracks, it opens ominously with “‘Til Next Market Day” before adopting a laid-back beat that persists underneath a sobering serenade in the stanza. Things remain relaxing but resolute from here, forging a chilling tune ahead of the playful percussion that begins “The Blacksmith”. A frantic riff soon ensues, thrilling through to the mellow melody of the verse. There’s an urgent yet airy atmosphere surrounding the whole thing that makes it simultaneously rousing and reassuring.

“Don’t Let Me Come Home a Stranger” is a benign ballad that feels affecting afterwards, while “The Maid of Seventeen” is a lighter offering that stays soft and stirring throughout. “The Close of an Irish Day” is another relaxing effort then, made up of cool instrumentation and spirited singing. “The Banks of the Bann” heads in a more delicate direction when it’s done, keeping compassionate from start to finish.

“The Goddaughter – Part 1” is an upbeat and absorbing addition on the way to the emotional ambience of “Interlude for Mama”. “I am a Youth” grows gradually out its wake and drifts gently towards the warm acoustic riffs of “Erin’s Lovely Home”. This tender undertaking acts as a pleasant preface to “The Green Fields of America”, which brings the proceedings to a touching terminus.

O’Kane has crafted a collection of calming compositions that rest easy on the ears. The innocuous attitude of each song combined with their stripped-down, straightforward style gives rise to a record that’s ideally suited to anyone searching for something simple to sooth the senses. You can investigate it for yourself on iTunes now.

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Graduate of NUI Maynooth's Department of English, passionate writer of fiction and creative non-fiction alike. Mad about music, movies and books. If there's anything I enjoy more than listening, watching and reading, it's writing about what I listen to, watch and read! Check me out at davecsimpson.wordpress.com, find me on Twitter @davesimpson1 or drop me a line at dave@puremzine.com