HOUSE OF REFUGE
Black Hen Music
All right I will preface this review with a couple of caveats. Firstly, Jim Byrnes has been one of my favourite Canadian blues singers ever since I first heard his CD That River a decade ago (1996). And, secondly, gospel music really isn't my favourite music.
So, what happens when Byrnes puts out a gospel album? Well, it's great of course. I mean come on, this guy can flat out play guitar, and he has that sort of gravely voice that fits blues so well, and frankly is ideal for gospel too. Of course blues and gospel really are two styles of music with very similar roots, and often share the same emotions, so it all comes together smoothly.
From the opening Didn't It Rain through all 12 cuts, Byrnes cooks with this CD.
It is interesting to read about the next two songs on the CD at www.blackhenmusic.com/artists/jim_byrnes/. It relates the second and third songs were written by Byrnes, “when he was in Lithuania shooting the feature film Highlander - The Source (he was a long time Highlander television series regular too). While the gorgeous, Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid is a nod to the 27th Psalm, the slowly urgent death chaser Running Out Of Time, was written by Byrnes in the time it takes to sing it.”
The same site also related “another Byrnes original, The Death of Ernesto was written in the middle of the night in the Utah Mountains after meeting Che Guevara in a dream,” which in itself is really cool.
This CD won Byrnes a Juno, and it has been picked up by fabled label Rounder for distribution in Europe, so you know it has caught attention, and well it should. Great voice, great material, great CD. Check it out.
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper May 21, 2008 - Yorkton, SK. Canada