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Music Review - `Another Sky` by Kelly's Lot (dmac)

Kelly's Lot - Another Sky  (click on image to watch video)

 18 September 2020

 

Black

Kelly’s Lot is a band fronted by Kelly Zirbes. The group has already released 15 CDs. While Zirbes is described as a “folk singer/songwriter with a heart for the blues,” the album Another Sky contains little that might be called ‘the blues.’ Instead, this 12-track album is very much a folk effort. 

Sometimes, when the descriptor ‘folk’ is used, many may immediately tune out. They likely assume the music is a bunch of strummy acoustic guitar tunes. Kelly’s Lot, however, might prevent such a one from tuning out so soon because Another Sky incorporates plenty of sonic variety. For example, “Foolish Try,” which was co-written with multi-instrumentalist Doug Pettibone, prominently features Phil Parlapiano’s Tex-Mex accordion. The song even includes a few lyrics in Spanish, on a tune with distinct roots in south of the border sounds. Then there’s “The Irish Luck,” which – as you may have guessed – is distinctly Celtic, and with its penny whistle, might pass for a St. Patrick’s Day drinking song. 

Accordion is sure put to good use on this album. One titled “Simple Man,” which features a gypsy folk vibe running through it, has accordion up front in the song’s mix. Lyrically, the track is more than a little unusual. “He just loves me with a passion/He’s a simple man,” Zirbes tells us. Most the time, songwriters pen lyrics that attempt to comprehend complicated individuals. Not so here, though, as Zirbes sounds be taken aback by one who is, at the end of the day, relatively simple. This ode to a simple guy includes a clarinet solo. (When was the last time you heard an honest to goodness clarinet solo on a pop song?). “Lock Me Up,” the song that follows next, has a ‘50s rock arrangement, as well as another unusual lyric. This girl is begging to be imprisoned, so her field-playing guy can, well, play that field. “You put me in a prison gown/And run all over town.” This lyrical tactic also flies in the face of typical pop music conventions. Often, dating all the way back to James Brown’s heyday, pop singers have been imprisoned by love, rather than locked away from it. 

While Zirbes isn’t afraid to experiment with various musical styles, she is also able to sing serious political songs. Although it’s not clear who or what her target is for “Freedom,” she’s clearly bothered by something or someone limiting another’s freedom. “No one knows that it’s real,” she tells us, “Only those who lost their freedom.” Zirbes sings its heartfelt words with sincere passion. One song that sounds a tad out of place, however, is “Christmas Is Calling.” Written solely by Zirbes, its lyric is – at its root – about separation between two lovers – only set during wintertime. “And I need you more when Christmas comes to call,” Zirbes confesses over a twangy groove. 

If you’re one of those people that practice extreme prejudice against all folk and folk-related music, Kelly’s Lot might just jolt you out of your preconceived ideas. Yes, Kelly Zirbes has a folksinger living deep down in her soul. However, she knows how to dress up that soul in plenty of unexpected garb. This woman who sings the praises of a simple man, is by no means simple herself.

 

Music Reviewer - Dan MacIntosh

 

Dan MacIntosh - Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including Inland Empire Weekly, CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio, Roughstock.com, Country Standard Time and Spin.com. 

To Read All of Dan's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

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