Oisin Leech “Cold Sea”

Outside Music / Tremone Records, 2024

Broodingly, beautiful album pondering life, and the beauty and power of the ocean.

About a decade ago atmospheric scientists at the universities of Oxford and Reading, who were lovers of classical music, catalogued and analysed depictions of weather in cultivated music from the seventeenth century to the present day, to help understand how climate affects how writers think. They found that “composers are generally influenced by their own environment in the type of weather they choose to represent”. It’s uncertain as to whether the same research has been carried out for Americana. However, it’s clear from the outset of this album that Oisin Leech’s debut release has been inspired by the weak autumnal sun struggling to get through the mist and the rain rolling in off the Atlantic in Malin in the far north of Ireland, where recording took place in an old schoolhouse.

Leech’s musical career has gone from street punk bands to an ongoing seven-album spell with folk duo The Lost Brothers; however, this was the first time he worked on songs to sing alone. The thought of performing songs with minimal arrangements led Leech to investigate new expressions and ways of playing. Leech wrote almost 40 new songs with opener ‘October Sun’ forming the bedrock for the album. Leech says that “All of a sudden I had a collection of songs that told a complete story. Looking back I see I had created a new world.”

Colour Of The Rain’ poignantly traces episodes of Leech’s life as he reflects on the flashes of the northern lights, which he saw when he was recording in County Donegal. ‘Maritime Radio’ is a guitar and synth-based instrumental with a barely audible shipping forecast underneath it read by Deirdre Lowe, with Oisin finding inspiration in the weather again.

The penultimate track, ‘Trawbreaga Bay’, originally comprised 40 verses before these were cut to a more manageable three. The song features the legendary Dónal Lunny playing bouzouki. There are some beautiful strings on it from Roisin McGrory. It has the feel of a widescreen requiem to the force of music and the ocean. The instrumental ‘Daylight’ gently draws proceedings to a close.

With spring in the air, this feels like a winter album. No matter, draw the curtains, pour yourself a hot toddy, put ‘Cold Sea’ on and transport yourself to the edge of the shimmering and dark Atlantic Ocean as it crashes against the Irish coast. You won’t regret it.


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