Reviewed: Liam O’Kane – Happy Days Sad Songs

1 Jun

Liam O’Kane released his debut album in early 2010

Reviewed for Issue 35 of LeftLion Magazine

Is there anything more happy and summery than a simple acoustic reggae backbeat underneath simple, honest lyrics? If there is I think you’d be hard pressed to find it, and as the opening to Liam O’Kane’s debut release, on ska label Do The Dog Music, it stands the record in promising stead. But listen a little closer and the title track to this album reveals itself to be quite a lyrically sombre number, with cheery upbeat music masking a painful tale of a broken heart.

O’Kane has a simple songwriting style that tells honest stories about every day life – sometimes mundane, sometimes heartwrenching, always delivered with charm – over an folksy acoustic backdrop of ska-laced roots rock, with the occasional lick of melodica and ukulele. They are stories that every one of us can relate to; trying to be upbeat when you feel like crap, trying your best and still getting it wrong, a lover leaving, feeling frustrated in the face of politics or missing the last train home. But amongst the sadder themes are a few happier ones, like getting a cab home with a nice driver, or the importance of being polite. Forgive me for getting a little deep here, but this record reflects the mask that we all put up when we feel down and out – a cheerful facade to hide our feelings, like the upbeat melodies that conceal the saddening lyrics of this lovely album.

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