February 4, 2015 by Robb Powell
A bit of a re-launch for singer-songwriter Jim Kirby sees him gearing up to release new album ‘Just’ Jim Kirby very soon. The cast-iron conviction you feel from the deep heartfelt soul of his music only continues to gain strength and momentum with each new collection in my opinion. It is like he’s built up foundations so strong they could survive a tsunami and he possesses a quality more than capable of knocking many an established artist off their legs. Very much a seemingly quiet and pleasant young man, Jim has an unassuming presence. That said, it is a presence that makes itself felt and heard. His personality is laid bare via his music and you’re invited to share in a very personal journey.
I’ve mentioned before how his sound for me is somewhat unique. This is down to, partly at least, the sheer force of individuality it encapsulates. Those vocals are soaked – no actually they are drenched – in blues. They don’t just drip-drop on to you, they immerse you into the vivid world he creates around the songs. Each line, each chord feeds a banquet into your ears and you can’t but hang off every single note, word and sound. There’s a real rawness but I mean this by the way the songs bleed out of, reveal themselves to and are crafted by such a creative soul. The raw-edge to his vocal is nicely rounded and so delightfully smooth. The extent of emotion he expresses really awakens something within.
Just the intro to Devil Don’t Want My Soul, to pick out an example, sets the scene so perfectly for what Jim is going to bring you for the next six minutes of the song. Just hit play and find out what I’m talking about. This track specifically showcases why this guy deserves a considerable amount of your time and attention. It goes through so many emotions, so many changes, so much brilliance to be perfectly honest. I just love the gentle work up to the furious 20 second acoustic guitar race about a minute and a half in. The music, the lyrics, the atmosphere conjured up all paint a living, moving, breathing real-life motion picture that draws you right in. You can smell it! Taste it! A perfect way to open this particular collection he released as Kirby James last June.
Call It What You Will is beautifully crafted and produced. Some songs have a myriad of evocative layers building on what are already very strong and acoustic-focussed foundations. It soon becomes evident how crucial an element this is. One man and his guitar remain the heart and soul of these blues.
Where there aren’t so many layers there’s still outstanding pieces of musical accomplishment. Gone, for example and the delightful Song For A Singer. These exude an intricacy that runs deeper, even with a more delicate handling. Other notably exquisite members of this collection include the short but very sweet Ballad of a Simple Heart, which feels almost like it was a passing thought that caught alight from the creative fire and just had to be expressed, written, recorded and made part of this whole. And Last Train Outta Eden is beyond WOW. It has EVERYTHING! No matter the melancholy, you’ll want to share it. This is not an exhaustive list by any means and I strongly urge you check out Call It What You Will to let the music speak for itself.
A couple of more recent songs he has been working on include That’ll Simply Do (Highway Lights) (below) which simply put, is stunning! The quality inherent in the songwriting from the start has been impressive but I think here on these latest songs it comes through even stronger and I begin to understand just why Jim is so prolific when it comes to producing his art musically. These feelings, thoughts, emotions and stories have to and will be expressed. For those of us enjoying music so much as we do, we are lucky to have musicians like this who in sharing their lives in this way, speak directly to us. We feel less alone, like we can connect and express ourselves through others with the talent to capture it on our behalf.
What I also love about this song is the low bass undercurrent with which it starts and that carries on throughout alongside a sprightly melody. It changes and manoeuvres into new positions as the music flows of course but it remains a firm thread running through the middle, pulling it nicely together. Then there’s also the hook to that chorus. Love it! This one will be on mind radio for some time after you’ve finished enjoying the new collection that’s for sure.
While That’ll Simply Do is beautifully produced there are considerably more layers on which Sometimes (I Wonder) is built. The difference between them is a strength, though, naturally. Such differences across a collection enhance the collective, if that makes sense. This track features some impressive electric guitar which opens up the song somewhat. They showcase even more of Jim’s many talents demonstrating why he is so much more than ‘Just’ Jim Kirby. And if you can be in love with a song then I have it bad for She. It is an intimate, moving and rather sad moment where a heart is laid bare but it is so beautiful.
I can’t finish without at least a passing mention of the superb cover of Desperado. This is a song I came to love after somehow stumbling across Karen Carpenter’s version which is stunning and you should certainly check that out. Nevertheless, with a totally different approach Jim’s own version is brilliant! Watch the video below.
He may be known as ‘Just’ Jim Kirby from now on but the talents, achievements and skills of this young man reflected not only in and by the recorded songs, the demos and videos but also in everything he works so incredibly hard at 24/7 demonstrate how there is a heck of a whole lot more to him. I write this review/piece not just because Jim kindly writes for this blog, but from encountering his music a bit over a year ago and being instantly warmed by its charm and power. He has been one of a number of young musicians and artists who have truly inspired me and who I am very grateful to have the pleasure of knowing. With so much music already produced I’m still always left wanting more. Thankfully, the new album will be out soon so make sure you grab a copy too.
You will find Jim Kirby on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/justjimkirby – Go hit ‘like’.
You can follow him on Twitter @justjimkirby
You can buy Call It What You Will from iTunes >>here<<.