DAMIEN O’Kane is out for revenge on his third solo album, Avenging And Bright, released tomorrow on Pure Records.

On his follow-up to the radical and revelatory Areas Of High Traffic – a nominee for Album of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards last year – the Ulsterman picks up the progressive cudgel once more with heartfelt songs from his Irish homeland, mixed in with some English and original songs too, one written by wife Kate Rusby.

Recorded in South Yorkshire, the new record ambushes the Irish and English folk traditions, tempting them into the undiscovered realms of rock, jazz and world music, while always staying true to the songs’ roots, and the scene is set by the Game Of Thrones-style cover portrait of a kingly, heavily bearded Mr O’Kane, ready for battle.

York Press:

Damien O'Kane: out for revenge

Bold and unflinching in its course, the 11-track album takes its title from one of the three tragic stories of the Irish that Damien found in the 19th century book The Songs Of Ireland. He has penned the tune to complement the words of Irish poet Thomas Moore.

Written in 1811, it tells the tale of the three great warrior sons of Usnach, who hailed from Emain Macha, believed to be the first capital of Ulster. They were betrayed and killed by Conor, the King of Ulster.

O’Kane gives it a swashbuckling, sword-clashing setting befitting a title track, aided and abetted by his band of Steven Iveson, on electric guitars; Anthony Davis, on keyboards, synths and pads; Steven Byrnes, guitar and electric tenor guitar, and Josh Clark, drums and percussion, with guest appearances by Kate Rusby and American bluegrass banjo player Ron Block, of Alison Krauss & Union Station fame.

The album is produced by Coleraine-born O’Kane, who plays electric and acoustic tenor guitar, as well as trademark tenor banjo, and the track listing ends with Dancing In Puddles, an enchanting original tune he wrote for daughter Daisy, rounding off an emphatic reworking of the old alongside the best of the new.

Tomorrow (December 8), O'Kane performs with Kate Rusby in her Christmas concert at Leeds Town Hall.