The Irish World - Interview 31 Jan 2014
The following is the text of an interview with Bap just prior to the release of Let's Start Again
Martin ‘Bap’ Kennedy usually records in England or America but for his new sixth album Let’s Start Again, he decided to bring together some of the top musicians in his native Northern Ireland to play on it.
Singer-songwriter Bap – not to be confused with the big, crusty round bread famed throughout Northern Ireland – is the brother of fellow singer Brian Kennedy, and cut his musical teeth as lead singer for cult Belfast rockers Energy Orchard, with whom he recorded five albums.
The most local of the local talents he recruited for the album is bass player and harmony vocalist, Brenda Kennedy, a.k.a. Bap’s wife, also a regular member of the live band. A former lawyer and author on books about autism (through Brenda’s connections, Bap is now patron of Autism NI) she came over to the dark side in recent years.
“She’s always been musical but only got serious a couple of years ago with me”, says the good natured singer. “As a travelling musician, it’s hard to keep a relationship together, but if you’re wife is in the band with you, it’s pretty easy! She’s given me a new lease of life for this – when you’ve been doing it a while you can get jaded, but Brenda’s so enthusiastic. I do what I love with the woman I love…”
Bap rekindled an old friendship for Let’s Start Again with fellow Belfast man Mud Wallis, who he started out with in a hard punk band called Ten Past Seven. A country-rocker at hart, Mud introduced Bap to the music he ended up embracing (“what can I say, he always had better taste than me”). Seeing as Bap was making the stuff Mud loves, they decided to make a record together.
That sound, he says, is “country, blues, folk and rock, mixed with a bit of Belfast sensibility. There’s some Belfast disparagement in there, some bar-room philosophy, in search of the great one liner.”
There are quite a few striking numbers on the album, which after the Celtic melancholy of The Sailor’s Revenge has a more upbeat roots-y Americana feel and spans eighteen years of work, including many live favourites like Return to Jesus.
I ask about a few of them, such as If Things Don’t Change, which it turns out was about deciding whether to get out of Belfast in the early 80s, a time when it was most definitely not a happy place to live in.
“A lot of my songs are autobiographical, and you might have an idea for a song that hangs around your brain for years”, he explains. “I remember before I left Belfast, it seemed like a huge step and I thought it might never happen. I knew I really needed to go; it was me about to take a leap into the unknown.”
Though he’d be back and forth, Bap ended up being based away from Belfast for 24 years. He says it’s something he had to do at the time, go out and live an interesting life for a while. But when he started hitting his late 40s, he began to have thoughts of returning. He’s now been back eight years.
“I think it’s a very natural thing. You decide you’ve had enough of a certain kind of life, of these big sprawling cities and you want to reconnect with home, and your musical roots.”
Belfast was a pretty tough place when Bap left it, hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons. What he found when he came home, he recalls, was a different place altogether: “It was much more cosmopolitan. It’s a place with a lot going for it these days. Things like the Oh Yeah music centre would have been a dream for me growing up as a kid. Plus you can get a decent cup of coffee now!”
One number that has his city’s sense of humour stamped all over it is King of Mexico, and the Mexican ‘vibe’ is one Bap has a soft spot for, particularly since he found out about Zorro’s supposed Irish origins.
Apparently Zorro was based on an Irish guy called William Longford who went to Mexico and tried to start a revolution. Bap tells me with obvious delight that they even have an annual Zorro fest in Wexford every year to celebrate the connection, which attracts lots of Mexicans.
He hasn’t been to the country, but he nearly has. “I was supposed to go with a bunch of guys to Tijuana at one point when I was in Los Angeles. They told me my music would be very popular there and I should really try and go and meet some people. But I was too drunk to go.
“The night before, I got hammered and the day I was supposed to go I was destroyed so I didn’t go. I have a sombrero though, that was in the studio like a talisman as we were making that track. We gazed at the sombrero looking for inspiration.
For the full interview, see this week’s Irish World newspaper (issue 1 Feb 2014).
To view the interview at The Irish World website click here
"Beautiful songs, simple and fresh, playing divinely" - Mescalina (Italy)
Let's Start Again has received another great review from Mescalina Music Magazine, Italy.
To read in Italian click here
The following is the text of the review as translated to English (by Google!)
There was much anticipation for the release of this new album after The Sailor 's revenge two years ago had wowed audiences and critics alike, placing the work of Bap Kennedy on many year-end rankings of the best albums of the year 2012. A proper recognition for a career that began with the Energy Orchard in the late '80s and continued into the next decade with 5 albums and continued with 5 more solo albums from the Domestic Blues(1998) up to, through collaborations with artists such as Steve Earle, Van Morrison, Shane Macgowan, his masterpiece that is The Sailor's Revenge , great job starring Mark Knopfler. Bap Kennedy is a great craftsman of music, which perhaps did not get all the accolades he deserved, but he always produced albums excellent, building a bridge between Irish music and the music of the American tradition, in a successful mix of country, folk, rock, blues and soul. This his sixth work, let's start again , do not betray the expectations giving a beautiful and pleasant album that is just a hair away by the magic of the previous work. eleven tracks, where the atmosphere is more relaxed, soft, where there are fewer flavors Irish / Celtic, a disc with the most diverse and international sounds, but where the great music is present in every single song on the disc. Accompanied by a band, Brenda Boyd Kennedy on bass, Gordy McAlliser on guitars, Rabb Bennett on drums, John McCullough on keyboards, mandolin Noel Lenaghan, Richard Nelson on pedal steel and dobro and John Fitzpatrick on the violin, in great harmony and in perfect harmony, Bap Kennedy leads us, with great use of violin, vintage keyboards and delicious choruses, on a musical journey through space and time. 's initial title track, Let's start again , it is a delicate and melancholic ballad with a great vocal support of Brenda, his partner in life, Revelation blues is an upbeat country-blues with banjo and fiddle in evidence, King of Mexico , with a start that reminds us of La Bamba, leads us perfumes Latin, Tex-Mex and South of the border in one of the best tracks of the entire disc. There are times where Bap explores calypso, to Jimmy Buffett, as in fool's paradise , cheerful, joyful, Caribbean, others where the American tradition with steel and violin comes out as in Let it go , slow waltz, country or Heart Trouble classic western swing that never fails in its work and in swinging, to Lyle Lovett, If things . Others defining moment of the album is Radio Waves , a dip in the "sixities" with the soul of Motown, with lots of delicious chants of "sha la la la", mixed with sounds of country. Fine songs, simple and fresh, played divinely, a pleasure for the senses, a great confirmation, a great record that you absolutely do not have to run away. Bap is rebooted again, great! Of note, the availability of a Limited Deluxe Edition version, where a second disc there are 9 songs from his first four solo albums, Domestic blues ( 1998), Lonely Street (2000) The Big picture(2005), Howl On (2009) and two delicious version acoustic Jimmy Sanchez and Please return to Jesus , two of the most beautiful songs of The Sailor's Revenge , his masterpiece.
Click here to access on the review website in the original language (Italian)
Belfast News Letter
Bap Kennedy was interviewed by JOANNE SAVAGE of The News Letter about his new album Let’s Start Again. The text of the interview is as follows:
“This album is more upbeat - I decided to have some fun,” says Belfast singer/songwriter Bap Kennedy, 51, of his new album Let’s Start Again, the lead track on which, Revelation Blues, is perhaps punchier and rockier than his usual style.
The new collection was made with producer Mudd Wallace who Bap – famous, among many other achievements, for having his song Moonlight Kiss played in Hollywood movie Serendipity starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack – worked with in his earliest days when he considered his sound more “power-punk” than folk melody with a moody, bluesy twist.
“It was fun to revisit my more upbeat self,” laughs Bap, who last collaborated with Mudd in the 1980s.
“And I want that sense of liveliness and energy to come out right across the album; it is definitely set to a more optimistic, zesty mood than some of my other work.
“Generally, I am quite introspective and the melody is maybe usually more plaintive.”
Kennedy has worked and sung with people like Van Morrison and Mark Knopfler.
“That was huge validation because starting out as a singer/songwriter you have so much anxiety about whether or not people will respond to your material.
“I mean Van is obviously huge, and to get approval from him is pretty epic.
“These days I am so happy doing what I am doing as a working musician.”
Is it still an amazing feeling walking out there on stage to the microphone and the applause and the atmosphere of anticipation?
“Well, this album has definitely gone some way towards rekindling my joy of performing, plus the fact that my wife has joined my band and now plays the bass. That has helped inject excitement into the whole business of performance again because like anything, over the years, doing the same thing, it can become routine and formulaic and lose a bit of the charge it had at first.
“I mean you do go through phrases where you feel on automatic pilot and maybe feeling that you’re stagnating. But then when inspiration strikes again you understand why you so wanted to be a performer in the first place. When it’s going well there’s just nothing like it.
“Being a musician is as good as it seems a lot of the time, and I do love it.”
Bap describes his musical inspirations as incredibly broad, running the whole gamut from hillbilly music to classical. “But the songwriters I really respect and admire would be Hank Williams, Steve Earle and Van Morrison.”
It seems songwriting is in Bap Kennedy’s blood, musicianship in his very nature. And long may it continue.
Click here to view the interview on The News Letter website
"Tuneful gems. . . top notch performer"
Let's Start Again has been reviewed in the North Devon Journal. The text of the review is as follows:
Martin "Bap" Kennedy first made an impact on the U.K. music scene as the frontman of guitar based rockers Energy Orchard during the early nineties,and the Belfast born singer-songwriter is now firmly established as a top notch solo performer,mining a rich vein of gently understated Americana with rare grace and charm. "Let's Start Again" finds Kennedy working with some of his native Ulster's finest musical talents as he serves up tuneful gems such as "Radio Waves," "Strange Kid" and "Heart Trouble" for your listening pleasure.
Click here to view on Review website
BBC Radio Ulster - 1 Feb 2014
Bap will be live in the studio with Gerry Kelly this Saturday (1 Feb)
Listen in from about 12 noon
Radio Dublin City 103.2 FM
Tune in to 103.2 Dublin City FM tomorrow (Wed 29 Jan) between 11.30 & 12.30 (Midweek Music Miscellany) & listen out for Let's Start Again!
Revelation Blues on BBC Radio 2
Check out Bap's new single Revelation Blues on Good Morning Sunday with Clare Balding on BBC Radio 2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03s65ck
Downtown Radio - 27 Jan 2014
Bap will be on Downtown Radio on 27 Jan 2014 with George Jones talking about his new album LET'S START AGAIN (coming 3 Feb)
Listen to the show live from 3pm at
Bap's new album Let's Start Again has received the thumbs up from BBC's Ralph McLean...
Tracks from the album will be featured on Ralph McLean's show this evening (22 Jan) on BBC Radio Ulster at 8pm
Earlier today he tweeted as follows:
"Tracks from the new @bapkennedy album @ProperRecords tonight. Trust me its fantastic #bapisback"
Click here to listen live
The following is the text of a review received from Rock United:
Northern Ireland and Belfast is home to singer/songwriter Martin Bap Kennedy and his latest offering to the Gods of mellow goes through several different stages of folk-rock. Tiny bits and pieces of everything from Americana and Latino to the old Irish tradition of things and back again to mid-tempo rootsy rock. The darn right lazy and easiest way to describe his 6th solo album, "Let's Start Again", laid-back stuff (there's a clever word, 'stuff') inspired by the ancient likes of Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan.
Perhaps not always the absolute correcto mundo statement, but I told you I was being lazy and not going to nitpick. I do believe that most folks would agree on the overall feeling of the album though. There's however a lot more to Bap than first meet the eye or ear. There is always that underlaying sound of old school Country inspired by the ultra ancient legend of Hank Williams. I kid you not. Bap's been into both power-punk and Celtic melancholy in the past, but has clearly moved on to other arrangements and the slightly 'western' structure.
"Song of Her Desire" is just a lovely mish-mash of (very early) Dire Straits and Springsteen (his most rootsy and laid-back material). "Radio Waves", takes you on a journey through country and Van Morrison, while "Heart Trouble" steps back in time and space to Hank and big band's swing. Bap has retained his sense of storytelling, but the ease of which he pays tribute to one genre to the next shows a maturity that few manage to receive in their lifetime. There's a couple of oddities and darn right weird moments on this record and certainly not quite as instant or easy listening as his fellow label mate Henry Priestman. You simply need to spin this several times and then let the low-key mood melodies slowly sink in. Recommended. Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
"Fresh, crisp & awash with good vibe"
Let's Start Again has received the following favourable review :
The Americana music category was made for people like Bap Kennedy; artists who struggle or let’s say aren’t easily allocated to any one category to gain the attention deserved. From the very start Belfast-born Kennedy (brother of Brian Kennedy) impressed with his songwriting, brought to my attention via his band, Energy Orchard, Kennedy has repeatedly come up with the goods.
After befriending Steve Earle, and have him produce his debut solo record Domestic Blues and now years and five solo albums later Let’s Start Again lends a feel like as if this guy is just starting. So fresh, crisp and awash in good vibe is the record. As Kennedy’s conversational-like songs sweep over one like a tidal wave.
At a time when people are looking for true organic roots and a guy with a little history and swagger Kennedy fits the bill. An erstwhile storyteller, and one he exploits nicely he speaks of how he sees trouble come down the road (“Revelation Blues”), dreams of possibly being “The King Of Mexico” (as some Borderlands accordion, piano and Mexican guitar plus keyboards swirl) and with a romantic feel ooze from its veins, “Radio Waves” brings a nostalgic ambiance. Talking of old (music) “Heart Trouble” marries western swing with hints of rockabilly as fiddle, piano, pedal steel and upright bass coupled with harmony vocals all play a significant part as the sound is perfected. Who said you had to be from Texas to perform music like this, step aside you Stetson toting acts from the Lone Star State.
With a bunch of subtle variations, Kennedy and his players; Brenda Boyd Kennedy (his wife), Gordy McAllister, Rabb Bennett (regulars on his albums), John McCullough, John Fitzpatrick, Noel Lenaghan, Richard Nelson, Trevor Dyer, Vinty Gilbert and vocalists show great music can just as easily come out of his native Northern Ireland as his usual recording base of American or England.
Among the finest, and it is a fine line between most tracks the wry “Strange Kid” (as he sees himself, and why not. After all we are all different, and if that means we are strange so be it) and with pedal steel, fiddle, keyboards and, some sweet harmonies in there too “Let It Go” is a superb country song, and when Bap does one people should take notice because he is a natural, one of the best in around.
As for the ‘deluxe’ cd it comes in the form of tracks from previous albums Lonely Street, Howl On, The Big Pictureand Domestic Blues (the title-track one of three from the Steve Earle, Ray Kennedy produced album) plus acoustic versions of his songs “Jimmy Sanchez”, one of his best and mellow ode “Please Return To Jesus”.
Click here to view on review site
Praise from Italy for Let's Start Again !
The following is the text of the review as translated to English (by Google!)
To read in Italian click here
The "pen" by Bap Kennedy is a fountain of value, one that uses only part of good opportunities to write important things. The words that need to stay in time. And with good things and the important fifty-songwriter Belfast has always left on the blank sheet of paper, although he continued his career without the deserved recognition from the public as would be granted, just like a pen value always kept hidden for fear of being consumed by most. Beauty is no exception even this new Let's Start Again that comes just two years after the previous Sailor's Revenge that was produced by Mark Knopfler, perhaps the artistic peak as a writer, and it was the perfect match between American music crossed from the very ' solo debut Domestic Blues under the protective wing of Steve Earle who wanted very strongly in the Nashville- american roots then amplified by personal tribute to Hank Williams and his real-Celtic roots, developed in the distant past by working with the mentor Van Morrison has always stravisto for him since he was a "rocker" playing in the Energy Orchard , his first band with five albums in discography. Substantially less misty and melancholy of the previous irish, this time, Kennedy, author honest and musically curious like a real sailor of both worlds, returns to his musical past, yes riabbracciando the country but returning to his record in Northern Ireland with the help in production of the old friend "found" Mudd Wallace , and playing along with the faithful band that accompanies him live a more substantial number of local musicians: his wife Brenda Boyd on bass, Gordy McAlliser on guitars, Rabb Bennett on drums,John McCullough on keyboards, Noel Lenaghan mandolin, Richard Nelson on pedal steel and dobro and John Fitzpatrick on violin. Simplicity, maturity and style, combined with the romantic positivity of the texts, are characteristics that emerge in each of the eleven songs that range across the board, revisiting entire career: the great outdoors by country led by pedal steel and slide ( Let's Start Again, the up time of the choral Revelation Blues, the infectious lightness of a burning desire in Song Of Her Desire), the love of rock 'n' roll in the '50s doo-wop to If Things Do not Change and Heart Trouble almost to caress the jazz but with a guide ispiratissimo violin, folk step slow waltz (Let It Go), and the lulling memory lane radio waves that permeate Radio Waves, the ardent Under My Wing between the Caribbean and Van Morrison, and dips in the atmosphere caliente, Tex-Mex and Latin ( Fool's Paradiseand King Of Mexico that moves at the same pace de La Bamba ) demonstrating that his "pen" has more colors: gray and less fresh than the previous Sailor's Revenge but more red and burning. Worthy of note, finally, the deluxe edition that includes a disc anymore. A sort of greatest hits album contains eleven tracks selected from his old records: Domestic Blues, Lonely Street, Howl On, The Big Picture , plus two acoustic versions of Jimmy Sanchez and Please Return To Jesus . A record of the highest class with songwriting yet imprinted on the freshness and vitality of the novice but written with the maturity of a veteran, and capable of leading, at a slow pace but with some long stride, my gloomy days this winter to the upcoming spring.
Click here to view on review site in the original language (Italian)
Irish Post - 5 Stars
"This quite brilliant album ..."
Let's Start Again has been awarded the following Five Star review :
I first discovered Bap Kennedy and his unique musical vision back in the late 1980s via an Energy Orchard album. He was the Irish band’s main songwriter and lead vocalist and I was smitten. Fast forward almost ten years and I rediscovered the talented Irishman when his 1998 solo debut, the Steve Earle produced DOMESTIC BLUES was released to an indifferent public. Nevertheless, he has continued to quietly release his albums to widespread critical acclaim and a growing fan base, ringing the musical changes, but maintaining a strong songwriting ethos that has married his love of American music with his Celtic roots. This latest album was recorded in Northern Ireland with his road band augmented by skilled Irish guest musicians and represents yet another step forward for Bap’s versatile songwriting, as he continues to explore and expand upon sounds rooted in his exciting brand of Americana, country and roots rock.
Each song carries in it the depth of his learning, the range of his curiosity, but also the compulsion to create something new and lasting. If, like me, you love the old-school country, then you’ll just love the swing-style Heart Trouble. Pure Texas honky-tonk with Richard Nelson’s pedal steel, John Fitzpatrick’s fiddle and John McCullough’s piano jamming in perfect syncopation behind and around Bap’s laid-back vocal without a hint of a pseudo southern twang that mars so much UK-based attempts at country authenticity. There’s a kind of easy-going calypso feel to Under My Wing, but it’s not overdone; just sounds natural and real. I had empathy with Strange Kid, especially the chorus—we’ve all looked in the mirror and been confused to see: ‘Some strange kid looking back at me; some strange kid that’s what I see.’ Bap Kennedy has this natural skill of being able to write about everyday feelings and emotions and matching them to inventive and memorable melodies. He does it again and again throughout this album with a timeless sound for an ageless crowd.
He sets things up nicely with the gentle, yearning melody of the opening title song. He has a warm, inviting voice and the understated production suits the song’s mood, enhanced further by the delicate harmonies of Brenda Kennedy. Crisp upbeat production and instrumental elements shine on the optimistic, instantly likeable Revelation Blues. A chugging rhythm driven along by inspired fiddle and what sounds like an organ buried deep in the mix. He travels ‘south of the border’ with King Of Mexico with softly stroked acoustic guitar, hints of accordion and a superb Bap Kennedy vocal. There’s a definite 1960s retro feel to the pedal steel driven Radio Waves, with a gorgeous sha-la chorus and a deep-twang Duane Eddy-sounding lead guitar. I could go on and on, but really I’m having too much fun just listening to this quite brilliant album. Though we’re hardly into 2014, this is without doubt the best British country album of the year. And I doubt that any other act will come close to matching it in the ensuing 12 months!
View on review website.
Click here to preorder Let's Start Again
Proper Records Ltd in conjunction with Lonely Street Discs are running a Soundcloud sharing competition.
Songs from Bap's new album Let's Start Again (3 Feb 2014) have been posted on Soundcloud.
To enter simply share the Soundcloud link for a chance to win Let’s Start Again - in all 3 formats: Standard CD, Deluxe CD & Vinyl LP.
Bap's gig at The Barge, Belfast on 29 Dec 2013 was reviewed in the Jan 2014 edition of Creative Voices NI. The full text of the review is as follows:
Bap Kennedy returned to play The Barge, Belfast on 29 Dec 2013 where he performed with his band to a packed house. This is great venue for local music, with lots of character and intimacy.
Support for the evening was the wonderful Mandy Bingham who opened proceedings with her own song "Good Girl Blues". I can remember the first time I saw Mandy back in 2012, this was the first song she ever sang in public... Mandy has come along way since then. Tonight with support from husband Graham she gave her best performance ever. Confident and in great voice she took us through a range of her own material but also included her special version of "Harlem Lady", written by her late father David McWilliams.
Then Bap Kennedy took to the stage supported by his wife Brenda on bass guitar and backing vocals, Gordon Mc.Allister on lead acoustic guitar and Rabb Bennett on drums.
Bap entertained us with his own style of country blues and Americana, playing songs from his new album "Let`s Start Again" plus some of his more popular back catalogue. The night was a great success with my highlights being "Radio Waves" and "Heart Trouble" from the new album, plus two of my all time favourites .. "Cold War Country Blues" and the beautiful "Jimmy Sanchez".
The audience played their part too by singing along and shouting out for requests....
Bap had some copies of the new album (his 6th) for sale on the night. I bought a copy of the Ltd Deluxe Edition containing a bonus CD of classic Bap recordings...
Bap Kennedy has come a long way since his early days with Energy Orchard.
In his solo career he's toured supporting Mark Knopfler who also produced and appeared on Bap's last album, "The Sailors revenge" and has also worked with Shane McGowan, Van Morrison and Steve Earle.
For this album he chose to record it in Northern Ireland, and as well as the band he's toured with for the last year or so since the release of the last album, he's also brought in a number of local musicians. The album was co-produced by Mudd Wallace ....
By Ronnie Purvis
Click here to access video & review on the website of the Creative Voices NI.
Bap's new album "Let's Start Again" has received another very favourable review from Northern Sky music magazine.
The full review reads as follows:
The former lead singer with Belfast's Energy Orchard releases his sixth solo album LET'S START AGAIN, featuring eleven new self-penned songs, each imbued with a strong Americana feel. With an impressive back catalogue of album releases, one or two produced by notable musicians such as Mark Knopfler and Steve Earle, it's hardly surprising that any subsequent albums would see the singer/songwriter strive for excellence and for this album, Kennedy returns to Mudd Wallace, producer of some of Kennedy's earlier band work. With clear and unfussy production, the songs are revealed as both slick and accomplished and at the same time highly accessible, with engaging melodies and mature lyrics.
Surrounding himself with musicians that have worked as part of Kennedy's live band, including his wife Brenda Kennedy on bass, Gordy McAllister on guitar and Rabb Bennett on drums, the songs are treated to some fine accompaniment, each with an Americana flavour, particularly King of Mexico, with its south of the border flavour and the wireless-pally Radio Waves. In places, the band really swings as on Heart Trouble and Fool's Paradise, both of which explore the diverse genres as Western Swing and Calypso respectively. Any problems deciding where to file this album, just stick it alongside your Cooders, Haitts and Tom Russells.
Click here to view on review website
Click here to preorder Let's Start Again
Bap & band at HMV Belfast - 4 Feb 2014
Bap Kennedy will celebrate the launch of his new album "Let's Start Again" with an instore appearance at HMV Belfast on 4 Feb 2014 where he will perform with his band.
Venue:3-6 Donegall Arcade, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT1 1PT
Radio U105 - 12 Jan 2014
Bap will be on Radio U105 on Sunday 12 Jan 2014, talking to Ivan Martin (Ivan's Sunday Brunch from 11:30 am)
Expect to hear Bap's new song Revelation Blues, as well as a feature entitled ‘Another Time, Another Place’ where Bap will select a track by another artist which is meaningful to him or provokes some personal memories.
The following is the text of a review of Bap Kennedy's new album "Let's Start Again" by Fatea :
Let's Start Again' is a bit of a return to his roots for Northern Irishman Bap Kennedy. Having spent many years as a member of Belfast rockers Energy Orchard and spells of recording as a solo artist in England and America, he's returned home to record his new album under the watchful eyes of co-producer Mudd Wallace for whom the country based sound of the album is also a sort of 'coming home' as well - something he's always seen as the natural home for Bap. Coming off the back of some extensive touring with, and also working alongside, Mark Knopfler (who in turn had played and done production work on 'The Sailor's Revenge' album), the record also has much more of an easy and relaxed feel to it following on from the more Celtic ambience of his previous effort.
With a set of backing musicians based around his usual live band -wife Brenda on bass and vocals, guitarist Gordy McAllister and Rab Bennett on drums - there are a number of cameo performances which add the icing to the cake of Kennedy's three minute song showcases. 'Song Of Her Desire' features Richard Nelson's subtle dobro over the shuffling rhythm, while it's John Fitzpatrick's fiddle which also provides the finishing touches to several of Bap's song structures. For anyone seeking a bit of a change of pace from the more tranquil country vibe, check out the Latino flavour of 'King Of Mexico' which delves into a slowed down La Bamba territory along with what seems like its distant musical cousin in 'Fool's Paradise'. For something a bit more driving, there's the uptempo 'Revelation Blues' with Vinty Gilbert's banjo to the fore and then 'Heart Trouble' delves into more of a jazzy area with the fiddle leading again. The album is literally bookended with a couple of lyrically philosophical pieces - both the title track and album closer, 'Let It Go' have that reflective feel about them which comes from a world weariness and show a songwriter in contemplative yet not overly profound mood.
As a bonus for new fans, there's the sweetener of an extra CD of material gathered from his previous 'Domestic Blues', Lonely Street'. Howl On' and 'The Big Picture' albums so it's hard to fault this as a package which exudes excellence in its low key yet high quality songwriting and performance.
Click here to view on review site
Click here to preorder Let's Start Again
When roots music authority No Depression reviewed Bap’s last album they described it as “his masterpiece”
They have now issued a review for Let’s Start Again in which compare the two albums. And their conclusion is that Let’s Start Again “has matched it (TSR) in every detail, which is a stroke of genius”
Below is the full text of No Depression's review :
I’ve been a fan of Bap Kennedy’s music since the Power-Punk days of Energy Orchard in the late 1980’s and own every solo album he’s recorded and I can honestly say LET’S START AGAIN and THE SAILOR’S REVENGE are by far the best albums he’s ever made.
After touring and recording for nigh on 30 years Kennedy looked and sounded like he’d had enough with the music business; but the spark was re-kindled when he met and married the delectable Brenda and his new found joie de vivre comes across in not only his writing; but his singing too.
The title track LET’S START AGAIN is, perhaps the most obvious song on the album and sounds like a man who can’t believe his luck at finding ‘true love’ at this stage of his life. It has to be said that Brenda supplies some sublime harmonies too.
This is followed by Revelation Blues which is the closest he’s come to sounding like Energy Orchard in years; with John Fitzpatrick making his fiddle fizz as Gordy McAllister performs his usual magic on the guitar in the background.
King of Mexico has a soft mariachi beat; which sounded odd at first, but when you know the songwriter you know he has always had a fascination with this part of the world (check out Fools Paradise too) and it was only a matter of time before it ended up on record. It wouldn’t surprise me if the song eventually turned up on a Raul Malo album, by the way.
Two songs caught my attention on the first listening – Radio Waves; which absolutely nails the fascination many of us have with the Cosmos and features the finest Sha La La La Lees that didn’t come out of Motown! The other is the Countrified Let It Go which neatly ends the album in a way, only a man ‘at one with himself’ could write or sing.
From start to finish there is an air of mischief and romance threading their way through every song as Bap and his band jump from musical style to style, without anything ever sounding out of place.
Bap hasn’t managed to better THE SAILORS REVENGE; which I described as his Masterpiece, but he has managed to match it in every detail and nuance which is a stroke of genius.
Click here to access the full review on the No Depression website.
Click here to preorder Let's Start Again
Bap's new album Let's Start Again has received a 5 Star review with one song in particular described as follows:
"Song of her desire" reminds me of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground - it's got that similar vocal tone, but Bap's song is slightly faster paced. It's a great song and one of my favourites on the album"
The full text of the review is as follows:
Bap Kennedy is back with his sixth solo album. Before starting his solo career he was lead singer and primary songwriter for Belfast rock band Energy Orchard, with whom he recorded 5 albums. In his solo career he's toured supporting Mark Knopfler who also produced and appeared on Bap's last album, "The Sailors revenge" and has also worked with Shane McGowan, Van Morrison and Steve Earle.
For this album he chose to record it in Northern Ireland, and as well as the band he's toured with for the last year or so since the release of the last album, he's also brought in a number of local musicians - altogether 10 people play instruments on the album and there are also six additional singers for backing vocals.
Brief comments on a couple of tracks...
"Song of her desire" reminds me of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground - it's got that similar vocal tone, but Bap's song is slightly faster paced. It's a great song and one of my favourites on the album.
"Revelation blues" has a nice fast cheerful style with a definite Country feel to it.
There's a real Americana feel to the album. It's packed full of great songs and is one of those albums you can listen to over and over again - highly recommended.
Anthony May Festival Photo.net
Click here to read the full review in Festival Photo.net
Click here to preorder Let's Start Again (release date 3 Feb 2014)
Bap is to perform at Holywood Festival on 4 April 2014
at Holywood Yacht Club, Kinnegar Road, Holywood
Further details and ticket link will follow
BBC Radio Ulster 6 Jan 2014
Stuart Bailie is to play Revelation Blues from Bap's new album Let's Start Again during his Late Late show on 6 Jan 2014.