JONATHAN BYRD & THE SENTIMENTALS
SELF RELEASE (supported by KODA and DPA)
Mother Tongue is being promoted as a trans-Atlantic collaboration between North Carolinan Byrd and MC Hansen, a respected songwriter in his native Denmark. The release is described as “a sort of audio handshake and international conversation between philosophy and rock n roll”, intriguing in itself, but even more so when Soren Kierkegaard and Bob Dylan are cited as influences. Of course, it’s the rock n roll element that intrigues Bluesandmoreagain, although the underpinning themes manifest in the lyrics explore some considerable and harrowing existential questions.
'Love Is The Law' opens, a gentle acoustic ballad with Byrd’s own light acoustic fingerpicking and understated Nicolaj Wolf bass providing an ideal atmosphere for rumination. ‘Malchik’ is more mournful with Wolf’s bowed bass adding gravitas to a tale of a celebrated Moscow Metro stray dog, adopted by commuters until killed and commemorated by a statue. ‘Workingman Blues #3’ has delightful, ringing fingerpicked guitar but the careworn Hansen delivery tells a pretty desolate tale of hardship and hopelessness, with a resigned, ironic “Hallelujah” as the single word refrain.
That may sound fairly gloomy, but the funky skiffle of ‘There's A Storm Coming’ offers some hope. It’s an addictive 2’ 30”, with a rudimentary, grungy Byrd guitar riff as a four bar solo all driven by Jacob Chano’s offbeat snare. ‘Natural Supernatural’ too is a fine chugging country workout musing on religion and individualism with a memorable hook and a beautifully-judged MC Hansen guitar break, reprised on the rhythmic acoustic rockabilly bash of ‘I'm Going To Change The World’. Byrd too, displays tasteful fretboard wizardry amid the gospel harmonies of ‘Sins Of Your Father’.
The lasting impression of Mother Tongue is that it is a skilful and well-developed juxtaposition of light and shade, with gentle, acoustic songs of high quality abutting against some more energetic rock and country tracks, exploring the tangle of existentialism and earthly issues from the domestic to the universal, with fine strong melodies and harmonies. That seems to suit our confused and confusing 21st century zeitgeist almost perfectly.
Date added: Jun 06, 2015
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