* First review anywhere……….
(5 / 5)
Being a singer-songwriter/solo artist can be a lonely job. There’s no one to blame. No one to lean on. No one to pick you up when the morale is low and the muse is a no-show. No hiding place. You stand or fall on your own effort, or lack of.
But at the same time, there’s also no one to let you down or want to hog the limelight either. If you are good at your job, you get all the praise and kudos.
A voice, a guitar and a bunch of self-penned songs. Brighton-based, Northampton-born musical troubadour Kev Minney goes it alone as a live performer and as a recording artist.
In 2015, Kev went to New York to record debut EP, “All You Need”, where he also played live and then came back for shows over here. His next couple of years were spent working on the songs for his debut album, “Stories Of The Sky”, which dropped in September 2017.
Music Republic Magazine were the first anywhere to get hold of a copy and run a review. So far, that record has achieved more than a quarter of a million Spotify streams.
The follow up and “that difficult second album”, “Modern Stories”, is now in our hands, again for the first review before anyone else. Due for release on the last day of February.
Singles from it have already been shown some love by BBC6 Music DJs and other radio stations. Both of Kev’s albums produced by Mercury-nominated producer Jag Jago, who has worked his magic with the likes of The Maccabees and Florence Welch.
37-year-old Kev was a celebrated virtuoso guitarist up to the age of 30, a stutter holding him back from fulfilling his desire to sing. But he began to write his own songs and take to the mic’ after the big three-oh birthday once he moved to the vibrant and creative seaside town of Brighton.
Since then, an EP, two albums and hundreds of live shows across the UK and Europe – he has a German tour throughout February 2020 – to hone his musical chops and prove that nothing holds this talented guy back from ‘going for it.’
On the new record, Kev delivers a total of 10 tracks, eight he penned on his own and two he co-wrote with his partner and solo artist in her own right, Steph Brown. He is joined by arranger Andrew Stuart-Buttle, who also contributes violin, mandocello, electric guitar, keyboards, electric bass and backing vocals.
Steph Brown adds BVs and piano, also popping up for a duet on one track. Emily Mitchell on cello, Alfie Weedon on double bass, Lawrie Miller on drums and Pete McCourt on additional electric bass.
The material fits Kev like a snug glove and there is not one duffer among the 10 cuts. If you dig calm, soothing, stripped back and chilled vibes, Mr Minney’s new record is for you. His sweet and soft vocal style is in the Colin Blunstone, Ryan Adams and Nick Drake territory.
Some may file him under “folk” or even “alt.folk”. Me. No. I’d say this is simply classy singer songwriter fodder from a gifted solo artist who deserves attention.
Just like his first album, the new one sticks to a “less is more” production value, and has a very light touch. The subtle string arrangements are a delight and add huge value.
Lots of space for the songs to breathe in, and Kev’s ample guitar skills are used sparingly, to splash brush strokes on the canvas rather than showboating. The songs are the boss here. Kev the conduit for delivery.
It’s one of those albums that grows on you the more you hear it. Another example of the importance of listening to the songs as they were meant to be heard, all in one go and in this order. Not cherry picking for playlist purposes.
An impressive body of work that must be appreciated in its entirety, just like the good old days of vinyl LPs….I remember this when it was all fields….. Don’t coppers look younger today…..Back in my day……
The songs on “Modern Stories” reflect current times and focus on such topics as mental health, technology, human connection and addiction. For me, perhaps this collection slightly pips the first batch on the first album, in as much as the flow and the way they fit together with each other.
The vocal performance is consistent, but I like how Jag has not polished it all down to perfection. This is as real as it gets and sounds just like Kev could be in your front room, playing just for you. Mind the cat, Kev!
With 28 months of experience on stage and crafting his songwriting between the two albums, Kev has had time to develop as a performer and as an artist. Some may say that they are the same thing: Performer/Artist. No they are not. Discuss!
It’s a big ask to pick standout tracks from the set, because it is a beautiful job as a whole. But if pressed, I’d say the opener “Magic” is really lovely, with its jazz-like acoustic guitar part and the gorgeous string arrangement. All arrangements are by Andrew Stuart-Buttle – and bravo to you sir!
“Stronger” is really beautiful – Steph’s piano licks so nice. Tasty band track “A Way Out”. “Natural Disaster” captures the beauty of Kev’s and Steph Brown’s harmony vocals. Kev soaks the vocal in emotion on the closer “All That I Need”.
Two finely crafted albums in, and Kev Minney is carving himself quite a solo career – but treading his own path. Not chasing trends or “likes/hits” on-line. Writing his songs, singing ’em and playing his guitar, in front of an audience big or small or in a studio.
For no other reason than for the sake of the music and expressing himself creatively. Just how it should be in this disposable world of ’15 minutes of fame for fame’s sake’ that we live in today.
By Simon Redley
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’