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BAP KENNEDY —LET’S START AGAIN – Deluxe version (Proper Records)


The Americana music category was made for people like Bap Kennedy; artists who struggle or let’s say aren’t easily allocated to any one category to gain the attention deserved. From the very start Belfast-born Kennedy (brother of Brian Kennedy) impressed with his songwriting, brought to my attention via his band, Energy Orchard, Kennedy has repeatedly come up with the goods.


After befriending Steve Earle, and have him produce his debut solo record Domestic Blues and now years and five solo albums later Let’s Start Again lends a feel like as if this guy is just starting. So fresh, crisp and awash in good vibe is the record. As Kennedy’s conversational-like songs sweep over one like a tidal wave.


At a time when people are looking for true organic roots and a guy with a little history and swagger Kennedy fits the bill. An erstwhile storyteller, and one he exploits nicely he speaks of how he sees trouble come down the road (“Revelation Blues”), dreams of possibly being “The King Of Mexico” (as some Borderlands accordion, piano and Mexican guitar plus keyboards swirl) and with a romantic feel ooze from its veins, “Radio Waves” brings a nostalgic ambiance. Talking of old (music) “Heart Trouble” marries western swing with hints of rockabilly as fiddle, piano, pedal steel and upright bass coupled with harmony vocals all play a significant part as the sound is perfected. Who said you had to be from Texas to perform music like this, step aside you Stetson toting acts from the Lone Star State.


With a bunch of subtle variations, Kennedy and his players; Brenda Boyd Kennedy (his wife), Gordy McAllister, Rabb Bennett (regulars on his albums), John McCullough, John Fitzpatrick, Noel Lenaghan, Richard Nelson, Trevor Dyer, Vinty Gilbert and vocalists show great music can just as easily come out of his native Northern Ireland as his usual recording base of American or England.


Among the finest, and it is a fine line between most tracks the wry “Strange Kid” (as he sees himself, and why not. After all we are all different, and if that means we are strange so be it) and with pedal steel, fiddle, keyboards and, some sweet harmonies in there too “Let It Go” is a superb country song, and when Bap does one people should take notice because he is a natural, one of the best in around. 


As for the ‘deluxe’ cd it comes in the form of tracks from previous albums Lonely Street, Howl On, The Big Picture and Domestic Blues (the title-track one of three from the Steve Earle, Ray Kennedy produced album) plus acoustic versions of his songs “Jimmy Sanchez”, one of his best and mellow ode “Please Return To Jesus”.   


                                                             Maurice Hope      


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