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Music Review - 'A Shiver in the Sky' by The John Byrne Band (dm)

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

14 October 2019



The fourth record from The John Byrne Band offers robust engagement with the hopeful promise of living. A multicultural musical creation frames an experience for the listener, offering a vantage point of tragedy and trauma, but ultimately, an affirmation of Walt Whitman’s declaration, “I stand for the sunny position.”


The ten songs on “A Shiver in the Sky” all settle comfortably into the Americana genre, but they do so with a delightful Irish influence by way of John Byrne, the band leader, chief songwriter, and Dublin native. The lead single, “Special Place in Hell,” provides an auspicious glimpse into Byrne’s tact as a clever lyricist, and also the ability to couple those lyrics with compelling melodies and musical breaks. His band, which occasionally features pleasurable and rich ornamentation from a violin player and a horn section, adroitly handles the folk and country compositions.


The pacing of “A Shiver in the Sky” is mature and skillful, allowing the different sounds and styles of the record to fully complement each out. “Just Like You” is a trip to New Orleans, with its eclectic horn section and bouncy melody, whereas the next song, “Time Ain’t Changed a Thing in This Town” begins with a banjo, and follows from there to engineer a Nashville-Galway connection.


“Your Love is All There Is” shows that Byrne knows how to write and deliver a chorus. It is a song that will inevitably stay in a listener’s head long after its final measures.


“A Shiver in the Sky” is ambitious, and largely follows through on its promise, demonstrating the craft of a songwriter, and group of musicians, committed to thoughtful music.


 David Masciotra



David Masciotra ( is the author of four books, including Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing, 2017) and Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky, 2015).

To read all of David's reviews, click here 





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