Listening to this album reminded me of mid-period Bob Dylan, not that Keaveny has set out to re-create a particular sound rather it is a précis of an overall musical stance. Keaveny is no newcomer though, having four previous solo albums out and a history of playing in bands before that. This is my first encounter with him and it is one that I would happily repeat. Keaveny has one of those distinctive voices - sort of Dylanesque - that some will love and others won’t. I enjoyed it as it gives the music much of its personality.
The album was recorded in Santa Fe, New Mexico with a bunch of musicians who get into the groove and add flesh to the musical bones. There are moments of brass, fiddle, Wurlitzer and accordion over the solid rhythm section and the sensitive guitar. The first song that immediately makes an impression is Ridin’ Boots, a harmonica laced song with a campfire chorus, laced with fiddle, accordion and guitar that suggests all are having a good time making this irresistible brew. That kind of mood pervades much of the album, and soon sets up a signature sound built around dance floor rhythms, the vocal and the backing vocals and prominent guitar and accordion.
Brevity is not one of Keaveny’s strong suits as the majority of the fourteen songs run to over four minutes, with the longest running over five and a half. So you will either be happy in Keaveny’s company or you will depart after a song or two. Keaveny is the main writer here, with a hand in all the songs; two are co-writes. At their heart these are folk songs given the extra energy of drums. There are times when things are taken to another dimension, like the very electric Out Of Time. This is a song that has a solid (almost motorik) beat and an incessant guitar repeated phrase that flows into some more freestyle atmospheric guitar and brass that set a mood. It’s quite different from the main set of songs but somehow fits with them and shows the range of influences that are at work in Keaveny’s head.
Brass plays a big part too in Changing, a slow song with an almost spoken vocal over subtle backing vocals on a song that speaks of the need for change that comes to all. In a way there’s a touch of Leonard Cohen to this song - again more in feel that in actuality. Another song, Someone to Talk to Blues, takes that last word as its mojo and mood. The album closes with that longest running song The Yippee-I-Ay Song which sets the tone with accordion and guitar and provides a long instrumental mid-section over which Keaveny speaks. It closes what is a very individual sounding album that may bring to mind others and may not be to everyone’s taste, but he certainly manages to leave an impression. Out of Time may be compared to much that is out there right now, but Keaveny clearly delivers to his own timescale and muse, and that is no bad thing.