About the songs on the new album, The Innocent by Jim Byrne
Fancy Wooden Box
A fingerpicking blues that sounds like it could have been written in the 1920s or 1930s. A prisoner contemplating his last minutes before execution; hoping to elicit your sympathy as he tells his story. The beat is supplied by Jim's brother Peter beating his arm-chair with a wooden mallet; there's home recording and then there is recording your home.
Two Empty Chairs
We are at the local village hall, where you will find music, dancing, betrayal and perhaps even murder. The music is a strange mixture of Country waltz and European oompah band. Banjo by Graham Macintosh and backing vocals by Glasgow singer songwriter Dinny.
A song by 70s guitar band Big Star (written by Alex Chilton, Chris Bell); though in this reading it is clearly not a teenager singing of young love, Jim turns it into a wistful and sad memory. In this version, the song has a haunting feel to it.
A classic country song; covered by many artists in the past but Jim reworks it in his own laid-back style; echoes of The Basement tapes era Bob Dylan and the Band; a hypnotic mix of guitar, banjo and harmonica - with harmony vocals building towards a climax.
Sand In Our Shoes
Wistful folk - memories of youth, camaraderie and innocent hopes; hippy beach life remembered - while contemplating what could be a more stressful future. This song inspired the album name and set the pace for many of the songs written for this album.
When You Bit Into That Apple
If you want drama - then this song has it in spades. There are many songs about lost love; but not many as strange and dramatic as this one. A string section racks up the emotion - Jim's vocals are particularly 'Jim Byrne like' on this track; deep, strange and direct.
You're So Sweet (Sweeter Than A Rose)
This was the last song written for the album - co-written with Pat Byrne. Mostly put together in the Bed and Breakfast we stayed in while visiting York for a few days break. I don't really know where it sprang from; though the arrangement was influenced by the Woody Allen film 'Midnight in Paris' that we went to just after the song was finished.Gorgeous and opulent backing vocals from my brother Peter. Melodic songwriting inspired by the jazz and blues of the first half of the 20th century.
You Are A Good Friend Of Mine
Cynics should avoid listening to this beautiful love song; it's one's from the heart. The arrangement provides added interest; percussion supplied by a mixure of a shoe box, Ewan MacColl CD cover and Bic pen as a drumstick.
A lullaby designed to put a baby to sleep; but it might do the same for you. Scottish Folk singer-songwriter Yvonne Lyon provides the delicate piano accompaniment.
When The Sun Shines On Me
A tale of a working man's desire to leave his job and move on to something different. This is a song for anyone who is at the point where they would like to get out of the job they are doing. This one is less Americana and more UK folk pop; from some indeterminable time in the past. The story springs from my time working for my dad in the late 1970s as a plumbers mate - and digging ditches behind the Co-operative Butchers in Clydebank.
About the songs on the CD, 'Every day is sunshine'
It's raining outside
Written by myself and Pat; a simple song which might just be about the weather, or something more sinister. Recorded in Sammy Horner's broom cupboard of a recording studio. I was just down for a visit, and while there tried to record another song I had, but wasn't getting anywhere with it. Sammy asked if I had anything else; 'It's raining outside 'was the anything else I had. I didn't know the words and hadn't actually sang it all the way through before.
I emailed Pat for the words and we recorded it that afternoon; the entire song was done and dusted in about 2 hours. Sammy gave Paul a phone and he came round and added the Baratone guitar part and the other guitar flourishes; Sammy added bass and backing vocals and had lots of input in the arrangement.
During the recording I suggested to Sammy that I talk rather than sing the vocals to make it more interesting, which he wasn't keen on. So I sang it - however the talk idea ended up being recorded; me talking them as if the words were from the script of an old movie. This makes it 'pass remarkable' - I think this must be part of the 'unusual' production techniques mentioned by Folk,blues and beyond. However - It turned out real good.
Down by the Wildwood
The song was a collaboration between myself and the hugely talented jazz singer Carol Kidd MBE (notable for supporting Frank Sinatra when he came to Scotland). It's a true story about when Carol met gypsies in the forest when she was a wee girl. Guitar by Graham Mackintosh, magical fiddle by Nashville's own Kurt Baumer, backing vocals by Chris Barrett and piano by 80s country blues legend Dexters Slim. It's very groovy and one of my favourites.
You don't know
Written the day after attending a great gig by Glasgow country and honky tonk blues band The Carlton Jug Band; I came up the road feeling I needed to write a new song. You don't know is not country and it's not honky tonk and it might be about recovery from some kind of mental anguish. That explanation makes not sense - but as David Coulthard (ex F1 driver) says, 'it is what it is'. The music is influenced by 60s folk guitarists.
Every day is sunshine
A relationship song. Dinny brought the song alive with her singing; I liked the song but wasn't sure of my recording of it - until Dinny came along and transformed it. More unusual production techniques bend it away from folk towards folky pop.
Can't catch the butterfly
Tell me you love me again
The finished lyrics were the third set of lyrics I wrote in response to Pat's original lyrical hook. I had written the guitar part previously. The guitar style influenced is by ragtime guitarists - who were in turn influenced more by piano players than guitar players. A whimsical take on love.
Don't go pissin' in the wind
Advice from your very own Glasgow philosopher; 'self -help' in song form. It uses the 12 bar blues structure - but made interesting by staccato finger-picking guitar, Dobro slide guitar, Glasgow style shouty lyrics - and strange timing on the hand-claps and tamborine. Described by Folk, blues and beyond as 'the real gem (on) the album'.
You always looked for the good in me
This is a love song for lovers who stay together. It evolved slowly and was re-arranged at least 5 different times including three key changes and many different rhythmic feels. This is the song I blogged about writing on myspace when I described the songwriting process; that was just the start - it had a long journey after that.
Scott MacDonald provides backing vocals to great effect, Dexters Slim provided 60s Americana organ sounds and blues harmonica. The non-repeating melody (not for a while anyway); makes it a grower rather than an instant draw.
Black sky blues
A song about the American dust bowl. Uses the blues structure loosely (i.e. there aren't twelve bars - and every verse is a slightly different length): as absurd as it seems, the arrangement is influenced by the techniques of dance music mixing and sampling. It sounds like a thumping heavy blues though; with the chunkiest slide guitar riff from Dexter Slim you are ever likely to hear. More unusual production techniques to upset some and delight others.
Beneath these Scottish Skies
A live recording (apart from one small vocal overdub on the middle eight) by the bluegrass band The Moonshiners. Recorded in Jimmy Moon's front room. I wrote the music for the intro, the main verses and chorus and the middle eight at separate times and sent them to the Mooonshiners - who proceeded to put them together and rehearse them in a different order. So when I turned up to record it - it was chaos. It took us a while to get it together.
Phil Sakerski tells the story that the problem was that I turned up without a hat on (hats are my fetish) and that it was only after they found an old Fez for me to wear that we were able to do a successful take of the song.
It's as simple as it gets; for me it's a mixture of Hank Williams and the Glasgow folk songs they taught when I was in Primary school in the 60s; a bit kitsch. Good fun though.
The blend of Celtic Folk, Americana and his own Cherokee/Irish blood make for a heady and exotic mix that belies his cowpunk past.
The Daily Record
A beautifully produced collection of Americana that includes Down By The Wildwood, the lyrics by Jazz singer Carol Kidd MBE, and recent charity single Can't Catch the Butterfly. Johny Dingwall, The Daily Record newspaper. Four Stars
.. there's a richer sepia toned Americana feel to 'Black Sky Blues' and 'Don't go pissin' in the wind', while 'Down by the Wildwood' brings to mind the poetic doom of Leonard Cohen. Byrne's lyrics are full of cinematic turns of phrase, dressed up in alluring melodies delivered by some of the most respected players on the modern-day Celtic Folk scene. Terry Staunton, UNCUT
"Every Day Is a Sunshine" is best described as an album that sneaks up on you so it is ready just when you need it. Feeling blue? Try the sunshine and Americana in "Tell Me You Love Me Again" and you'll soon be smiling. Need some subtle syncopation? "Down By The Wildwood" fits that bill (and enjoy the tasteful contribution of Kurt Baumer's gypsy flavoured fiddle while you are at it). Fancy some a full on folk meets country hoe down? The curiously named "Beneath These Scottish Skies" was made just for you.
So there you have it - an album that will make many people happy without ever appearing to be trying to do just that. When you think about it, that's quite a cunning plan and I - grudgingly - have to admit that I liked this album. Four Carrots
Folk,Blues and Beyond website
Glasgow singer/songwriter Jim Byrne follows up his debut release, "On These Dark Nights" with this eclectic collection of ten beautiful, atmospheric songs influenced by American, English and Celtic folk, country and pre-war blues music.
A slower American based finger picking combined with a British/Celtic sound. Some very different production techniques used on a few songs but still well worth a listen. Byrne really shows his guitar playing on "Don't go pissin in the wind", a true gem of the album.
Look out for this CD.
`Every Day Is Sunshine' is a coherent album that makes you want to hear more. And now, we just have to wait for the singer-songwriter to visit Belgium to see him
perform the work live.
Adam Levy (Solo songwriter/artist,
guitarist with Nora Jones and Tracey Chapman).
"Great record. With the steady, laid-back acoustic guitar strums that open 'It's Raining Outside' - the lead track on Jim Byrne's "Every Day Is Sunshine" - Byrne lets us know that he's a storyteller who's willing to take his time. The song is a portrait, painted line by line, of a hapless writer caught in a rainy day. Byrne ultimately cautions the writer (himself, perhaps): 'You're gonna need a coat, not a metaphor.'
Such sure delivery takes confidence and patience, and Glasgow-based Byrne displays both in ample measure throughout "Every Day Is Sunshine." The moods here range from genuine sweetness ('Tell Me You Love Me Again') to youthful wonder ('You Can't the Butterfly') to street-smart wisdom ('Pissin' in the Wind') to gypsy romance ('Down by the Wildwood').
The instrumental arrangements are well matched to each song's emotional climate, with acoustic timbres (steel-string guitars, Dobro, double bass, and occasional fiddle) prevailing. Even as moods shift and seasons change, all the songs on 'It's Raining Outside' feel of a piece and of a moment.
Byrne's singularly straightforward lyrics and appealingly unaffected vocal style tie the strands together and make this album a complete, compelling listen. " Adam Levy
Eilidh Patterson (Folk/Americana singer songwriter from Ireland and vocalist with Beth Nielsen Chapman)
'Every Day Is Sunshine' is a fresh, original album encompassing various strands of roots music from the Spanish-influenced gypsy folk song Down In The Wildwood to the exquisitely tender Can't Catch The Butterfly to the foot-stomping Black Sky Blues. There's even an upbeat 'come one, come all' bluegrass number in there for good measure. Seamlessly knitting all these songs and styles together are Jim's warm, deep, resonant voice and his immaculately crisp guitar accompaniment. This is no more evident than in the playful, upbeat love song Tell Me You Love Me Again - a personal favourite of mine!" Eilidh Patterson
Sabine (music photographer):
Have to tell you: YOUR NEW ALBUM IS GREAT!!!
I've listened a lot the last days. The versatility is fantastic and I was surprised by "Black sky blues" which make it to my favorite song (for now). And I love "pissin' in the wind". Well, you can always get me with blues. The violin at "You don't know" breaks my heart. All in All a complete great album...won't leave my player!"
JIM BYRNE's latest release Every Day is Sunshine popped through the letterbox the other day. Byrne's second album is made up of ten original tracks most of which are co-writes with Pat Byrne, one with Carol Kidd and a couple written on his own.
Having only heard Byrne solo before, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him ably joined by a bunch of other performers and contributors who help create a nicely produced and consistent yet varying collection of roots/Americana tracks.
For me, though, it's the sparser tracks like You Don't Know and Tell Me You Love Me Again that really showcase Byrne's considerable guitar-picking talents and writing skills.
On some tracks like Black Sky Blues Byrne plays everything himself - some fine slide guitar is credited to Dexter Slim who, I suspect, isn't a mysterious skinny guy from the backwoods but Byrne himself operating under a pseudonym.
Closing track Beneath These Scottish Skies is a crackin' wee bluegrass party in itself and hints at some of Byrne's past country punk activities.
This is a classy album in every way and should easily bring Byrne the wider recognition he deserves.
Chris Sheehan (Singer songwriter)
Jim has a rumbling voice that has, like most things from north of the border, a weatheredness and a kindness in equal measure. He sounds like he's gonna take the rap for you.
It feels as though he has made this record for himself - music is best that way. If there's an audience to love it - great - but make it for yourself first. In a world of anaemic pop where the acts and moguls admit they don't even listen to their own music - this is a welcome feel.
The album has a great balance of foot stamping stompers (my favourite being 'Black Sky Blues') and honest acoustic modern folkery - the most notable for me being Tell Me You Love Me Again - which does what all good songs do: says something painlessly simple and honest in a time honoured way, yet it feels as though it belongs only to him. "no big time dramatics, no fancy serenades/ don't need no bubbles in my lemonade/ just gimme your heart and music will be made/ Tell me you love me again." That sums it all up pretty well...
'Every Day is Sunshine' is Jim Byrne's latest album of songs that take you on a journey of musical genius and genres.... The opening track "It's Raining Outside" is strangely melancholic yet upbeat reminiscent of my tender years spent languishing in the music and verse of the great Leonard Cohen.
The album is a fine collection ranging from gentle romantic ballads through the passion of Latino dance, utilised in 'Down By The Wildwood', with the then entertained by foot stompin' blue grass, bluesy guitars, and melodic Americana...
Jim is an accomplished songwriter who has pulled together the cream of musical talent to lend their expertise to this album. I suspect I will be playing this for a very long time and wish Jim every success... it is well deserved.
On these dark nights album reviewed by 'The Letter'
I was very pleased to get this positive album review by The Letter - the website run by web designer Blair Millen.
There's something warmly familiar about the debut album from Glaswegian singer-songwriter Jim Byrne that resonates with me. Being a fan of people like Will Oldham, Elliott Smith and Michael Hurley, I can appreciated the gentle, country-tinged, guitar on opening track The Handle's Broken On My Cup. While the whispery vocals on Come Dance With Me bring to mind Lambchop's Kurt Wagner. Byrne has placed himself in good company here.
What a departure though. Byrne's solo sound couldn't be further from the raucous rock of previous band Loris. Where we once had big riffs and howling choruses we've now got sweet melodies and blissful harmonies. Check out My Weather Girl for the epitome of understated pop... all 90 seconds of it!
On These Dark Nights is a beautiful album; ideal listening for those cold winter evenings. It's secret lies not only in the combination of sing-along melodies and simple instrumentation but in the vocals. With only guitars (including banjo and banjo mandolin) and, on Sunday Morning, a Wurlitzer piano to accompany the occasionally fragile-sounding voice of Byrne, the opportunity for close scrutiny is there, but it's this vulnerability to Byrne's singing that turns out to be one of his strengths.
Helen McCookerybook - who I saw playing with Martin Stephenson a few weeks ago - is a strickingly talented songwriter. So I am particularly happy that she took the time to review my new CD,
"I have been listening to Jim Byrne's CD, On These Dark Nights and have been enjoying his guitar pickin', especially on the track Weather Girl, which has a sparkly old-timey feel. I also particularly like the countryish Tenderness, but the best track (I'm a sucker for the catchy ones) is Sunday Morning,which has a strong riff and a singalong chorus, and a dark little twist to the lyrics. "
Helen McCookerybook blog
On new years day I played at the Ettrick in Old Kilpatrick - to a crowd of New Year revellers - all in a good mood and all in party mode. Old Kilparick is of course Pat's home village - so it was a night of familiar faces, hugs, kisses and big smiles. I have a little history of my own connected to Old Kilpatrick - as it was during my years as a member of Dexter Slim and the Pickups (in the late 80s I think) that we traveled over to - and played at - the Letterkenny Music Festival. It was part of a mini-tour organised by Pat - and we travelled there - with what seemed like half the village in support. It was one of those adventures that those 'from the village' still talk about - with misty eyed affection for the good times.
While I was playing at the Ettrick I got joined by Jamie (sorry can't remember his surname) on Jemba drum drum and two other percussionists, one playing a Boran and another on the tamborine. It was a good fun set with a bit of banter between myself, the percussionists and the crowd.
Th following evening I played at the Liquid Ship - New Year Hoolay - with Hercules Mandarin and Patrick Bullen. I tried a couple of new songs; one of them still needs a bit of work - the other though went down well. Again it was an enjoyable evening; thanks to Ann, Chris and Jack and Maureen Maille (over from Nimes in France for a visit) for coming along to support me. And thanks for Dochan for putting on the gig.
On Sunday afternoon we went along to see Jim King and Mary Kathleen Burke at the Sunday afternoon acoustic session in Jinty McGinty's (Ruthven Land off Byres Road). Jim King is an an experienced performer who knows how to entertains with his collection of good songs and lovely folk influenced guitar playing.
It was the first time I'd seen Mary; she is a great singer with a rich Irish folk voice. I predict big things for her in the future. I found out later that I'll be on the same bill at the The Butterfly and Pig (Bath Street, Glasgow) on the 11th of this month (this Sunday) I urge you to come along; you won't be disappointed.
The other gig I did recently was at the Paisley Arts on Tuesday night. There wasn't a big crowd but it turned out to be a good night non-the-less as those who were there were determined to enjoy themselves. :-)
I've been doing more work on my website - in particular adding content exclusively for people who have taken the time to register for my Acoustic Adventures newsletter. Subscribers can download custom ring-tones (The holiday song, Daddy's car, Come dance with me and On these dark nights) and a specially designed lyric sheet. Register for my newsletter if that sounds like it appeals to you.
Tonight (Friday) I'll be playing indie rock with Loris; this will be our last gig for a while (or ever) - so come along to Nice 'n' Sleazy on Sauchihall Street if you want to catch the band before we are history. Loris gigs are always good fun - so I'm looking forward to getting on stage with my electric guitar and swinging my arm around a lot. We've only had three rehearsals for this gig - so I predict it will be loose - and seat of the pants stuff; which makes it more entertaining for those watching.
Way hay! I sold my first CD on CDBaby today (http://cdbaby.com/cd/jimbyrne). :-) It's only one, but it proves that someone listened to the songs and liked them enough to spend their own hard-earned cash on buying the CD. I'm taking it as a good omen in these credit crunch times.
How to promote music on the web
I've been doing lots of reading about how to promote my music on the Web - and updating my website as a result. Here are a couple of ideas from my reading:
1. Find out who you sound like; because if the people who like those artists will probably also like you. I've struggled to figure out myself who I sound like, so what I've done is add a form to my website to try to find that out. On every page you will now find a single one field form that ask the question, 'What other artists would you say my music is similar to?'.
Try it yourself, the form is on the right-hand column. There is also a page that lists all the artists that people have suggested. Get back to me if suggestions about how this could be improved (either by email or by adding a comment to this blog).
2. I've added full versions of all the tracks from the album to the website. The simple idea is that there is only one route to people liking and purchasing music; hear, like, buy. Nobody buys music they haven't heard and very few people like an artists music until they have heard it a few times. In other words don't be mean with the song samples. So now every tune has all the words and a full version of the song that can be streamed directly from the site. This advice is from Andrew Dubber's New Music Strategies website.
Goodbye to the band
Last night I rehearsed with my band Loris as we are working towards a farewell gig in Nice 'n' Sleazy's (Sauchihall Street, Glasgow) on Friday the 9th of January.
When I decided on a change of musical direction, i.e. from indie rock to acoustic folk/country I took a break from the band. It looks like that break will be permanent; so if you want to catch the band this is likely to be your last chance. 5 years with Peter Byrne and Bruce Ferguson (and for the first few years David Rogers) produced plenty of great gigs, great songs and a few CDs - so thanks to Bruce and Peter for the music and fun. I wish you both the best in your new musical adventures. I feel sad that the band is ending - as we worked well together - and Loris were definitely a great live band; and both Peter and Bruce are great musicians; but I guess there is a time for everything; and right now is the time to move on to something new.