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Oisín Leech: Cold Sea review – you can almost taste the salt

<span>‘Allusive’: Oisín Leech.</span><span>Photograph: Ellius Grace</span>
‘Allusive’: Oisín Leech.Photograph: Ellius Grace

After several albums as half of the Irish Americana duo the Lost Brothers – each recorded in a different US city – Oisín Leech has brought it all back home with a solo effort recorded in an old schoolhouse on the wild coast of County Donegal. It’s a striking contrast to his work with “the Losties”, as he calls them, shorn of the duo’s distinctive vocal harmonies and the cross-play of their guitar picking. Instead, he and producer Steve Gunn have conjured up a record rich in atmosphere, whose songs have a wintry simplicity in the spirit of Leech’s favourite poet, Seamus Heaney. “Rolling home, adrift and alone/ Late for the day like a skimming stone”, as opener October Sun has it.

Instrumentally, it’s essentially just Leech, his guitar and some vintage recording gear, though Gunn adds washes of synth, and favours have been called in from former Dylan sidekick Tony Garnier on bass, and bouzouki player Dónal Lunny. The songs are allusive and lonesome, supplemented by a pair of instrumentals, including the title track and a piece, Maritime Radio, in which an imaginary weather forecast is just discernible beneath waves of shimmering guitars. You can almost taste the salt on the wind.