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Music Review - `A Shiver in the Sky` by The John Byrne Band (lz)

The John Byrne Band -- A Shiver in the Sky   (click on image to watch video)

 3 Oct 2019



It practically goes without saying that John Byrne has pursued a singular career. With a wide array of influences and a vast influx of sounds imbued within his sprawling music palette, he’s never been one to fall, victim, to typecasting or any sort of narrow niche. Part of the reason may have to do with his varied environs; an Irish emigre, he now resides in Philadelphia, giving him a depth of perception that’s reflected in the different realms in which he operates. Indeed, each of his previous albums -- After the Wake (2011), Celtic Folk (2013) and The Immigrant and the Orphan (2015) -- have found him infusing elements of folk, Americana, Celtic music and other assorted styles that make typecasting elusive at best, and all but impossible at very worst.

That’s a good thing of course, especially in light of the cookie cutter approach that often characterizes the efforts of his contemporaries. So while the title of his new album, A Shiver in the Sky, may seem somewhat elusive, there’s a decided consistency in terms of Byrne’s decided determination and willingness to burrow deep beneath the surface. While much of the record finds him in a meditative mood -- the songs “All In All,” “Hard Livin’ Lovers” and “As The Crow Flies” offer the most adroit examples -- there’s not a single offering here that doesn’t stir the senses and ply his perceptive skills. The titles themselves (“Time Ain’t Changed a Thing In This Town,” “Your Love Is All There Is,” “Easy To get Stuck Here” et. al.) offer an indication he’s in a philosophical frame of mind, but no matter whether he’s ruminating on a plaintive ballad, applying some folk finesse or simply contemplating any given circumstance, he creates a sumptuous sound that allows for a decidedly engaging encounter.


Still, lest one think Byrne is merely content to pursue his passion as a tangled troubadour, there are uplifting elements as well. “Special Place in Hell” finds a contrast between its spirited pace and some seemingly darker intents (“There’s a special place in hell for you and me”), while “Just Like You” and “Hold That Against Me” share a robust romp that spurs both energy and emotion.

Here again, Byrne affirms the fact he’s a singular singer and a songwriter who carefully references his sources with insight and intelligence. Credit A Shiver In The Sky by proving that point succinctly.


 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here






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