|Niall Kelly — Not Sleeping|
Niall Kelly — Not SleepingLocation: Northern Ireland ~~ London, UK
Album release: January 2015
Record Label: None
01 Love Light 3:03
02 Shelter in Your Arms 4:24
03 Fire in the Hole 2:16
04 They in Turn 3:18
05 When Do I Check In? 4:32
06 Not Sleeping 3:26
07 Poor ‘lias 3:04
08 Pourin’ Rain 3:11
09 Pretty Horses 3:58
10 Crowland 3:06
11 Should Have Not Taken My Time 4:30
12 Rosalie 6:37
Dave Clarke, Thursday, 22 January 2015, Score: 8
• London Blues Roots Singer Songwriter comes up trumps
• Originally from Northern Ireland, Nail Kelly has worked as a professional musician in London for eleven years. This, his second album, marks a significant move on for him. “No Sleeping” tells the tale of a new father: He and his wife “in love with the baby, but not sleeping” all night. There is a good picture of father and son with the liner notes. So, here is a singer song writer who has a reputation for holding an audience, in venues like Ain’t Nothin’ But, just off Regent Street. In this album he has gathered around him some of the finest musicians in the capital’s blues and roots scene: BJ Cole, one of England’s most prolific session musicians who has played pedal steel with groups like Depeche Mode and REM. Here, he plays on three of the tracks. Other players are Alberto Manuzzi on piano and organ, Daniel Hale on drums, James Forster on guitar, Charles Benfield on double bass, Vlad Soriano on acoustic guitar, Fran Okine on electric bass on one track and Niall’s wife, Caitlin providing strings and backing vocals on some of the tracks. There is a real feeling of musical ensemble playing here.
• This is a “live in the studio” performance, and with that in mind, it is designed to be listened to from start to finish, and it really does work. Well in this context. There you are for a set from Niall Kelly (who has written all the songs) and his band. This is how it goes: “Love Light” is a perfect opener. A keyboard introduction is followed by Niall’s voice that strikes one immediately as memorable and strong. There is that sense of loneliness and longing that draws an audience in. “Are you leaving so soon? Dark in the room, so come back inside...” Pedal steel from BJ Cole starts track 2 “Shelter in your Arms” and establishes a mood as Niall jauntingly recognises he needs some “shelter, somewhere to hide.” Alberto’s piano cuts in from the left. The ensemble feel is established. “Fire in the Hole” contrasts perfectly.
• Is this a warning that an explosion is imminent? Niall, with Caitlin adding backing vocals, wish “for some peace in our home.” This is the shortest track in the set with, guitar maintaining the rhythm and just a hint of the pedal steel. A vital connecting number. So the set/album develops and gains in strength. Song 4 “They in Turn” emphases its simplicity and significance by having only Niall, accompanied by James Forster on guitar. There are mysterious words Who are those people looking for? What do they need? The title provides a clue perhaps, but it is the words “They in Turn” echoed by James’ simple riff that stuns. All that is lacking at the end of the number is the applause. Song 5 is “When do I check in?” This is a number to settle down with. One is used, by now, to liking Niall’s willowing voice, with guitar and piano backing up the familiar phrases: “funny little battles,” “driving a poor boy insane” and “blame.”
• By the central song, the title track, you are immured in the central themes and motifs of the set. “Not Sleeping”: The joys of looking after a baby. “The house is feeling ready. / Just the right environment. / Upstairs is a baby..” Strangely, there is a sub plot:,Mona Lisa ,Mad Hatter, Police. Who knows? But for sure it is Niall and his band who somehow back up and confound the mystery. The last 6 songs of the set maintain and reinforce the mood and reaction of an audience. The bluesy “Poor ‘Lias” features Alberto on keys (memories of Alan Price?). Again there is the mystery of where Lias is. He is “Not allowed to play with them other boys, but one day he’ll make his noise.” Another great track and you can just hear the celebratory “yep” at the end. You can tell the band are awed by their sound. On “Pouring Rain” you can hear Niall’s versatility. This is just him and his guitar, holding the audience. On Track 9 “Pretty Horses,” all the band are there playing at the top of their games and the audience would be well satisfied with the overall performance. “Crowland,” which follows, is a wistful instrumental with a repeated motif and leads confidently into ”Should not have taken my time,” rocking and reeling into the climax, “Rosalie” a six minute plus solid blues rocker, with Niall, and emphatic support from James Forster, and drums. The essence of a live performance and a perfect conclusion to a carefully constructed set. An extraordinary album. • http://www.americana-uk.com/
by MIKE DAVIES on 3 FEBRUARY, 2015
• Based in London, there’s strong traces of his Irish background to both Niall Kelly’s vocals and the melodies of his Celtic–soul tinged Americana of his latest release Not Sleeping. Most notably so on opening number Love Light, though, having said that, the second number, the shuffling way Shelter In Your Arms, is deeply embedded in old school Nashville with BJ Cole providing pedal steel and Alberto Manuzzi barroom piano.
• The tumbling chords of Fire In The Hole, on which wife Caitlin provides background vocals, illustrates a keen melodic sensibility, the domestic images of the lyrics echoed in the autobiographical Not Sleeping with its lines about his new baby, though quite how the reference to Elton John’s Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters fits in I’m not really sure.
• It’s a somewhat uneven collection, the early sparkle of the simple fingerpicked They In Turn with Kelly’s dusty vocals, the organ backed Van Morrison–esque When Do I Check In and the steel–flecked country waltzer Pretty Horses somewhat overcast by forgettable instrumental Crowland, Should Not Have Taken My Time’s sluggish meandering Southern blues jam and the overlong slow blues rock trio closer Rosa Lie, all of which are rather unfortunately lumped together as the final three cuts. It would have been a stronger set had Kelly played to his country strengths rather than seeking to show stylistic and musical versatility in a more live set framework, but there’s enough here that works to make it worth a listen. http://www.folkradio.co.uk/
Zorn on February 2, 2015
Website: http://www.niallkellymusic.com/ / http://van-morrison.musicnewshq.com/news/niall-kelly-not-sleeping-album-review/#
• “Balm for the soul.” 4/5 — Q Magazine
• “A extraordinary album.” — Americana–uk.com
|Niall Kelly — Not Sleeping|