Kieran Kane,
Somewhere Beyond the Roses
(Compass, 2009)

There are two kinds of folk/Americana fans: those who are crazy about Kieran Kane's music and those who haven't discovered it yet.

Kane, who first drew public attention with a series of hit singles as half of the O'Kanes back in the 1980s, has been carving out a cult career since that group dissolved. He has released half a dozen or so fine solo albums, a couple of duet CDs with Kevin Welch and three as a trio with Welch and Fats Kaplin.

He is adventurous, a master at fitting contemporary concerns into traditional Americana forms. His songs paint sound portraits of losers, seekers, people seeking love and losing it -- all of us. "A Marriage of Convenience" is about exactly what the title implies and tells us...

the door is always open
the latch is never set,
someone will be leaving
but it hasn't happened yet.

It's fine songwriting about a difficult topic and that's the kind of thing Kane specializes in. He eschews the cliches of country music, preferring to get at the deeper truth. Things are rarely simple in his songs, but they are always true.

In "Unfaithful Heart" he points out that...

Falling in love will tear you apart
if you fall in love
with an unfaithful heart.

...while in "More to It Than This," the singer complains he must have missed something somewhere along the line because "it seems like there ought to be more to it than this."

Kane's song are simple on the surface, often taking a blues form, sometimes being barely more than recitations, but inside that simplicity are deep insights into our common condition. Kane has a lot to say about the way we live today and he always says it in a fascinating and unique way. The band on this album, for example, consists of Kane on banjo, Richard Bennett on electric guitar, his son Lucas Kane on drums and, in place of a bass, Deanna Varagona on baritone sax. The lineup might sound odd but it works beautifully.

If you already know Kieran Kane's music, you'll want this album, If you don't, then listening to it will move you from the second kind of folk music fan, those who don't know his music, to the first, those who are wild about it.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

15 May 2010

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