Belfast-born singer-songwriter Bap Kennedy is an artist for whom I have had a soft spot ever since I heard him front roots rock band, Energy Orchard, and then when he went solo it was like manna from heaven to my ears. This was in 1998 when with the help of his friend, Steve Earle he debut with Nashville recorded, Domestic Blues. Featuring some of its finest acoustic players in Jerry Douglas, Roy M Huskey, Jr and Peter Rowan plus Nancy Blake (cello) Earle and drummer Larry Atamanuik.
Given Kennedy’s affinity to the traditional side of Irish music apart from Earle himself you could not ask for a more sympathetic ear than that of Mark Knopfler. For Knopfler has a great fondness for it through his own Northumbrian roots. An area known for fiddlers and Northumbrian pipers, as demonstrated by Kathryn Tickell (Chieftains, Sting) this is a project close to something Mark himself has made.
As for the songs, Kennedy has drawn from a broad spectrum of people and ideas as he serves up the likes of ‘Jimmy Sanchez’ and ‘Shimnavale’ (a place between the Mountains of Mourne and the sea) plus on more than one occasion he speaks of mistakes made and of regret. As on the dreamy ‘Lonely No More’ and melancholy, piano aided ‘Maybe I Will’ and this is before he gets to talk of Jesus! This comes when he speaks of a day in the future in ‘Please Return To Jesus’ and on reliving his time working in Belfast as a labourer on the buildings you have ‘Working Man’. Plus, with a Celtic feel due to the playing of Michael McGoldrick (flute, pipes, and whistle), his flute playing is all over ‘Jimmy Sanchez’ (inspired by the youngest of the Chilean miners miraculously rescued). While the title track, ‘The Sailor’s Revenge’ finds Kennedy in reflective mood as he comes up with wonderfully soothing country waltz-like shuffle. Immediately, it is followed in the running order by the simple, ‘The Beauty Of You’ that enjoys some mood shaping Dobro, fiddle and Uilleann pipe playing.
For the closing piece, Bap is found in sombre mood on ‘Celtic Sea’ as piano, fiddle guitar and pipes assist him as he begs the listener to come with him into the wild and cold Celtic sea.
Kennedy who, should have by now been more widely known has I feel become more mature in the passing of time and could now be ready to take that step up he is long overdue. Mark Knopfler for one believes he is. Or why would he have taken the time and effort to producer the record and have him use his London British Grove studio and perform acoustic, electric guitar and add vocal harmony. For he only records what and when he wants and it has to be good. On the subject of musicians the list accompanying Kennedy other than those noted above it also features James Walbourne (acoustic, electric guitar, backing vocals), Glenn Worf (upright, electric bass), Guy Fletcher (Hammond organ, ukelele, piano, backing vocals) John McCusker (fiddle), Ian Thomas (drums) plus Richard Bennett (electric guitar) and Brenda Kennedy (harmony vocals) who are on one track.
Add a Comment