First, my longtime favorite musical duo Byrne and Kelly have released their latest album, Echoes. Growing from their previous standby of adapting favorite tunes, Neil Byrne and Ryan Kelly have dived into the pool of their own songwriting, along with bandmembers Nicole Hudson and Peter Sheridan, to release an album of nine original songs with the added gift of one fan-favorite Irish tune. Their blend is getting stronger and they're beginning to really feel out, explore, and test the unique gifts and strengths that they each bring to the table.
Second, I am way less grumpy than the last time I wrote about an album, so yay!
You can't listen to Echoes without knowing where Byrne and Kelly come from, with several tracks that reflect on Ireland as homeland and give tribute to the places that mean something to them. Home from Home is the last track on the album, but was originally released as a single some months ago. It's a great song with a driving beat, catchy tune, and well-blended harmonies. Belfast opens the album with just about the most beautiful guitar solo you'll hear. Along with Nicole's violin later in the song, the instrumentals are lovely. The track as a whole is pleasing to listen to... but that's almost its downfall. You almost wish there was the teensiest bit more meat to it.
Putting some fire into the album, Step It Out Mary is the one song on the album that isn't a Byrne and Kelly original, but has met with much fan enthusiasm when performed at B&K shows in the past. It's a fun upbeat piece that highlights both Neil and Ryan's strong voices. I especially love the increasing layers to the chorus as the song progresses. The Rag Man is truly awesome. The music is intense and fun. You just have to hear it - there is so much to it! The driving beat is stellar, the story is great, and it's a perfect vehicle for Ryan's strengths.
The Garden is a powerful and poignant piece, headlined by Neil, reflecting on our childhood pasts. It has great harmony in the chorus and sets your feet tapping. Finally, Keep It Movin' is a light clappy song that's a lot of fun. Fans will no doubt enjoy listening for the tour stops that they might have been at!
It's a good album! It's always a little nerve-racking when your favorite artists do something new - will you still like it? Will you still like them? But, I think that, while perhaps a little different, it's a good direction for Byrne and Kelly and one I'm looking forward to walking with them!