Black Music Matters Festival

Kieran Kane

Somewhere Beyond the Roses – 2009 (Compass)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

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CDs by Kieran Kane

There's so much to like about Kieran Kane's latest, starting with the unique and dominating sound. A marriage takes place here instrumentally between a baritone sax and a banjo. That might sound like unusual partners, but the mix works, thanks mostly to the quality of the players, Kane on banjo and Deanna Varagona on sax. Rock music fans could use the band Morphine as a reference.

The first cut, Way Down Below, introduces the proud couple right after the wedding. Kane's writing, paired here with David Francey, is superb in imagery alone. "A life forged from pleasure/of cold hardened steel/learn as a beggar/lashed to the wheel/white as a lily/black as a crow/it all comes to nothing/way down below."

Francey also contributes to one of the highlights, More to It Than This, which was inspired by a phrase from Waylon Jennings when Kane was on tour with Jennings as part of The O'Kanes.

Every song is a keeper. Kane is on a creative roll recently. His teaming with Kevin Welch and Fats Kaplin has produced three excellent efforts, and now Somewhere Beyond the Roses follows suit.