The City Of Brisbane Australia might be doing something to its water supply – maybe adding a special element to boost music creativity. Firstly there was Phil Smith’s excellent recent release Year Of The Dog – read my review. Now along comes February from Brisbane’s Josh Rennie-Hynes.
I have previously written about Josh’s second single and was eager to explore a broader sample of material from him. Now I have seen him described as an Americana/folk artist. I’m not sure that I would agree with the (somewhat hard to classify) Americana or even folk moniker, but what’s in a label anyway? There are some stripped-back tracks here which could lead you to deduce it’s folk music but there’s plenty of other styles on offer with February.
The album was produced by well-know alt. country luminary and ARIA-winner Shane Nicholson who, along with Rennie-Hynes, plays almost all instruments on the recording (there’s carefully selected cello and pedal steel appearances every now and then). The ten songs here are largely on love found, love lost and a good deal of personal introspection. The lyrics carry a certain amount of gravitas, but it’s the melodies that really rate with me. “The Things We’ll Never Have Again” is a strong opener, the title says it all and the repeated outro ‘everything’s a mess’ sets the scene pretty vividly. Pedal steel dominates “27”, a powerful, poignant tale:
“Is this all, I’ll ever be”
Is this all, I’ll ever need”
Maybe it’s time to leave“
“Lucy” is pared back, a sole acoustic guitar with a gripping, heart-felt narrative about a broken relationship and the consequent missed opportunity to engage with a newly-born daughter –
“You could’ve called me your father, although it would’ve been so strange
And I would’ve called you Lucy, I’ve always loved that name”
“Hold Me Down” is the second single from the album, a full band sound with harmonica, an engaging track which sticks in the head long after. “Joey” returns to the softer vibe, predominantly acoustic and (later) electric guitar and pedal steel out front – this is a nicely-arranged alt. country song. “Erin” is another hook song, immediately repeatable and should get radio airplay, but there’s emotional resonance nevertheless.
“How Many Times” showcases Rennie-Hynes’s vocal prowess and the guitar picking is a fitting accompaniment. “To The Water” is a more contemporary affair while the cello in “Start It Again” is extremely evocative – a captivating song. The closer “Circling Clouds” talks of a “bluebird day”.
Shane Nicholson is definitely onto something here – Josh Rennie-Hynes has a lot going for him and February is a very impressive outing indeed. Josh is touring over June and July. Check out the dates and see him out live. I suspect it will be a rewarding use of your time.
June 21st – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW with Steve Grady
June 25th – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT
June 26th – The Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC with Steve Grady and Emilee South
June 27th – Wandiligong town hall, Wandiligong, VIC with Steve grady and Tom Tuena
June 28th – Private house concert, Bittern, Mornington peninsula, VIC with Steve Grady
June 29th – Pure Pop Records (Instore), St Kilda, VIC
July 2nd – Babushka Lounge, Ballarat, VIC
July 4th – Grand Poobah, Hobart, TAS with Steve Grady
July 5th – Fresh cafe, Launceston, TAS with Steve Grady
July 8th – The Old Bar, Melbourne, VIC
July 10th – Armidale club, Armidale, NSW with Steve Grady
July 11th, The Spotted Cow, Toowoomba, QLD
July 12th – Footstomp farm African benefit gig, Tallebudgera hall, QLD
July 17th – Magnums Hotel, Airlie Beach, QLD
July 19th – The Salthouse, Cairns, QLD