Powerful and Introspective Modern British Indie Folk From America!
‘Liking’ a particular musician or band is incredibly personal and subjective, regularly making no sense at all. I first encountered Bobbo Byrnes via his 2018, TWO SIDES TO THIS TOWN album, which I gave a very positive review to; but it was the follow up; RED WHEELBARROW that made me a fan.
With hindsight there’s not a lot to choose between the two; you can certainly hear that there’s a difference; some kind of progression in the style of songwriting even; but why I would wear one CD out and not the other; makes no physical sense … does it?
Now, another three albums on, Byrnes has all but ditched the Americana/Alt. Country formula that has done him proud so far; so nothing has prepared me for these songs … nothing.
First of all there’s some electronica jiggery-pokery that opens the first song; (Warren Sroka’s) Cold War … and continues throughout as Byrnes dives headlong into what I’d normally think of as Modern British Indie Folk!
The song is universal, and at the very least thought provoking; but the construction owes a lot more to the likes of Waterboys, Ian McNabb or even bloomin’ Ed Sheeran than it does anyone born on the other side of the Atlantic.
As the album progresses, the thing that has surprised and impressed me most is the intricate and imaginative way Byrnes plays his guitar ….. for a Modern Folk album (IMHO) there are Jazz and Blues flourishes here and there complimenting his impassioned songs and stories; the songs Untitled and Time Enough being prime examples; but there are others in there too.
Once his existing fans get over the initial shock of the change in direction; they are in for a veritable treat, with The Sea and Time Enough being deceptively simple songs on first hearing but evolve into ever more thoughtful and personal songs that would make fans of Ed Sheeran and Glen Hansard proud to own.
While the production behind the songs sounds complex; I have the feeling that this is the way Bobbo Byrnes can achieve on stage as a solo performer; none more so than Brendan Behan’s Contemporary-Sea Shanty Crooked Jack; which reminded me of the Roger McGuinn album of similar stories, many years ago.
If I’m honest it’s taken a while to fully comprehend and truly appreciate what Bobby Byrnes has created here; but there was a ‘Eureka moment’ a few days; and now I’m smitten; which has also made selecting a Favourite Song all the more difficult.
As a for-instance; even though I own a Bluegrass version; so I know it can be disseminated; I didn’t recognise Bowie’s magnificent Heroes for a few days; then ….. WOW …. it hit me like punch to the gut ….. what an incredible job Byrnes has done; and the windswept backing takes it into an arena Ziggy could never have dreamed of.
There’s even a beautiful instrumental here; October, and again highlighting Byrnes’ dexterity with an acoustic guitar.
But; I’m sticking with Byrnes’ own words for my actual ‘Favourite Song’ and it too is ‘Magnificent’ and a song that will make your jaw drop; such is the power and imagery that House of Cards creates I’ve had to turn the dial up to 9 so as not to miss a single word; and I urge you to, too when you buy your copy.
A sudden change of direction for one of my Favourite Alt. Country acts; but a very welcome one; and one that deserves your attention in many ways.
Released January 2023
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