Acko releases his debut solo album, ten years in the making, this February on the Felaheen label. The 54-year-old singer-songwriter is the former frontman with Dublin-based pop-punk quartet Grasshopper, who released a slew of singles on the Liquid label back in the mid 90s. A veteran of the Grafton Street busking mafia that also included members of The Frames, Kíla, The Mary Janes and The Pale, Acko has also produced albums for Steven O’Brien (Decency Week) and co-wrote and produced two critically acclaimed albums with Peter Murphy (aka Cursed Murphy) as the Revelator Orchestra. Tallaght-born, he has boomeranged between Wexford and Dublin over the past half-century. St Dominic’s Disappearance comprises eleven songs featuring long-time friends and collaborators Miriam Ingram, ex-Mary Jane Simon Good, Shane Wearen (The Pale) and violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire.
“When I needed people for parts, it seemed obvious to call on my old busking comrades, even Leslie Keye who did the mastering,” Acko says. St Dominic’s Disappearance, he adds, deals with themes of friendship, loss, the passing of time.The album emerges from a period of some disillusion and indirection that ended in the Spring of 2019 when Acko went busking for the first time in years. It was a return to year zero moment, a rediscovery of roots.
“I went out one day out of sheer boredom, and something amazing happened. I fell in love with singing all over again. I went out again the next day, and the day after that I bought a PA and started looking for gigs. I just wanted to sing.”
Starting with heartwarming tune "This is Where People Love you" that carries that reassuring line "of course you can come here, this is your home too", carrying the essence of the Irish nature,being friendly to strangers, although, as W.B. Yeats said "there are no strangers here, only friends you haven't met yet". The sparkling violin brightens the mood even more.
The following track, Back in the Day, seems like a total opposite. Slow, nostalgic melody with an aura of sadness hanging around, this is a reflective piece of the days long gone, the adventures had and perhaps, friends lost. Once again, the violin plays a dominant role here.
The Last Time I Saw Johnny is a classic Irish lament, with a few guitar chords guiding the sad story of a life no longer present.
The second last track with an intriguing title "Officially declared presumed dead" is a haunting example of an Irish storytelling about love, loss, remembrance. The lines in the chorus "youre the missing person of my heart" hit you to the core. You realize how deep this goes and what can be expressed with just a few words. You can't help but think this can somewhat be about Mic Christopher, a great Irish songwriting talent gone too soon. Acko recently appeared in the documentary about Christopher called Heyday:The Mic Christopher Story
The raspy voice of a seasoned troubadour shines through the album, proving that no matter the age or the length of time, if you follow your heart and work hard for it, you will eventually reach the destination. But also, as Acko sings in "Traditional Song" - " it's the journey, not the destination that keeps me in this situation"
This should inspire the aspiring songwriters and serve also as a lesson that achievements in the music don't come overnight. You have to keep the head down and they'll come. The journey might be bumpy but very rewarding.
St.Dominic's Disappearance was named An album of the Month of February on The Acoustic Yard Radio Show.