Jim Byrne "Every Day is Sunshine" (Hillhead GWE, 2010)
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Glasgow’s Jim Byrne has Irish and native American blood coursing through his veins; and much like his colourful genealogical mix, so his music is a subtle acoustic smorgasbord of rock, folk, blues and country forms from across geographical, chronological, and stylistic boundaries.
‘Down By The Wildwood’s gypsy violins and Bad Seeds portent is deftly handled, while on opener ‘It’s Raining Outside’, the sparse acoustic feel and vocal ruminations are rather too distinctly in the vein of Lloyd Cole. Much of the material is acoustic at its core. For example, the unsettling duet of the title track seems to be ‘Automatic’-era REM mixed with The National, with traces of Leonard Cohen. “I can relate to a man who is a sinner and I can relate to a heavy heart”, sets Byrne’s stall out clearly.
Byrne’s subdued vocal seem sometimes forced and restrained, but only out of necessity to match the depth of the material, as if he is capable of ‘singing’ more than he actually does, and with an intriguing voice which is occasionally reminiscent of Cole, Cave, Kurt Wagner, and Matt’s Johnson and Berninger. Elsewhere the Johnny Cash-isms of ‘Black Sky Blues’ add yet another string to his bow, and the more personal 'Can't Catch the Butterfly' is tender and heartfelt.
While its sometimes a bit easy to sit and list the vague familiarities in Byrne’s music; a dark Nick Cave damnation here, a lyrical Lloyd Cole aside there and a Johnny Cash sneer elsewhere, he is clearly drawing his musical spirit, pleasingly, from far and wide across the spectrum of the finest songwriters in the trade, but while he surfs ably across genres, we don’t really get to know a great deal about Byrne the man by the end.
‘Every Day is Sunshine’ is a very strong, and enjoyable, set of songs indeed. One can’t help but feel Jim Byrne’s trajectory from here is, justifiably, onwards and upwards
Date review added: Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Reviewer: Ian Fildes
Related web link: Byrne-ing desire