* FIRST REVIEW ANYWHERE – Music Republic Magazine’s Tip For Success *
(5 / 5)
A new name to me. Brighton-based, Northampton-born singer songwriter Kev Minney. His debut album, “Stories Of The Sky” is a very, very impressive calling card. These 10 self-penned tracks offer a calming, stripped back, uber-chilled vibe. Kev has a really lovely vocal style; sounding effortless, in the Colin Blunstone, Ryan Adams and Nick Drake mode.
There’s even touches of Simon & Garfunkel here, and this stuff is of that quality too. The material is well crafted and in the alt’ folk, acoustic singer songwriter mould; his voice a perfect fit for the songs.
Mercury-nominated producer Jag Jago, who has worked with The Maccabees among others, has clearly adopted a “less is more” production value, and has a light touch. The subtle string arrangements (cello, violin x 2 and viola x 2) add huge value. There’s an ethereal ambience marinated deep into this set.
The theme is astronomy. It started when he wrote the fourth cut here; “Dark Stars”, and inspired by Kev’s interest in astronomy. The next songs Kev and Jag created, “Just Another Day”, “Gravity” and “Can You Feel It Too?”, were also space-inspired and kick-started a full album with the same core theme.
The opening cut “Chaos In The Sky”, represents the overcoming of any difficulties that life throws at you. The second track in, “Like I Always”, is a beautiful job in the songwriting, the production and the performance. A mix of programmed electronic backing, organic instruments and the strings is perfectly balanced across the album. Kev is an accomplished acoustic guitarist, and uses open tuning and under-stated brush strokes to add the right flavours and colours to the material.
The whole album is quite mesmerising, and you can tell there has been a lot of love, sweat, tears and time invested into the creation of what sounds more like it should be album # three or four in an artist’s catalogue, rather than the fact this is actually his first. Kev managed to get Arts Council England to cough up some dosh with a grant to help pay for the making of the record, and its marketing. I doubt they will be sorry when they hear it.
It’s passionate, emotionally connected, intense at times and shows a maturity and a skill not often found on a debut release. His is a fragile, sensitive and sweet voice. No showboating on guitar even though he has a reputation as a virtuoso. The playing here is part of the canvas, not the focal point. His songs are King and his voice has the perfect vehicle in this material.
It’s not perfect; there’s tuning issues with his vocal now and again, such as on track seven, “Fairy Tales & Chains”. But it never detracts, but rather makes this an honest and totally real affair. A moment in time not spoiled by lots of studio skulduggery. Like a live gig where what happens, happens. Kudos for that decision to Kev and to his producer. Nothing ‘studio-sterile’ here folks.
The penultimate track, “Chances” is a stunning piece of work. The heartfelt strings, the choral-style backing vocals, the restrained guitar and his on-point vocal. To sum this all up in one word is pretty hard. There are a few to choose from: Serene. Gorgeous. Sublime. Blissful. But maybe because of the title and the overall theme, this works best: “Celestial”. Yeah, that’ll do.
Well worth checking out and I am pretty sure, this is just the beginning. Major labels take note. This is talent. Cowell would hate it! Maybe even potential to become Jag’s second Mercury nod? It’s that good……………….
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’