Friday, 27 April 2018

GIG REVIEW: Kyshona + The Remedy Club - Kitchen Garden, Kings Heath, Birmingham. Thursday 26th April 2018

When this blog adopted the slogan ‘music is the voice of the soul’, there was no intention to refer to any particular artist, just to capture a state of mind. However along comes Kyshona and a force of good blows the theory apart.  The injustice of any self-respecting music fan saying ‘who’ is tempered by the privilege of witnessing the embodiment of 'country' soul striving for justice amidst a fiery outpouring of protest passion. This is soul free of trappings, but packed with intent, innate talent and the power to convey a feeling.

4000 miles from Kyshona’s Nashville home resides a duo aspiring to forge a Celtic twist on the increasingly indescribable notion of international Americana. Whatever label, tag or genre alignment applies, The Remedy Club display a cool and classy approach, straddling a few lines while being forever mindful of the road they are heading. The duo consisting of Kieran McEvoy and Aileen Mythen has long left the fledgling status behind, fully resourced to branch out from their Co. Wexford home with a sophisticated brand of contemporary roots singer-songwriter music.

Under the guidance of Peter Morgan from Stafford based music operation Fish Records, these two acts have been united for a run of UK dates, and what better place to host one of their shows  than the atmospheric confines of the Kitchen Garden in Birmingham. This was Kyshona’s third time at the venue, with each appearance being a little different. On this occasion, she played solo for the entire hour in the spotlight, mixing a bunch of deep meaningful songs with inspirational musings. The audience hooked into every movement from the off, enthusiastically accepting the evangelical participation invitations that lean more towards the humanist than the spiritual side. In contrast, this was The Remedy Club’s Birmingham debut as they set about conquering the UK’s roots music scene in the best possible way by being up close and personal. Their performance was just short of the hour and packed with a double figure song content, vibrant in delivery, while totally at ease in finding the target audience.

Kyshona won the award for the evening’s most enlightening quip when introducing ‘Burdens Down’. “Hold no fear of rock bottom. It has a firm base that is not getting deeper. Just ensure you leave your burdens there on the way up” is more or less the sentiment as conveyed by Kyshona – the music therapist – on many tours of duty assisting the afflicted across America’s South. There was no holding back the passion from ‘Marching On’ as compassion evolves into the protest song. Expect more of this from the upcoming new album. ‘Liberty’ was a curious take on her nation’s iconic emblem and the cracks that seem to widen profusely. ‘Same Blood’ is the ultimate appeal for humankind to unite, and there were no shortage of takers from the assembled gathering.

The longer her set went on the more revealing Kyshona became. From her musical upbringing in South Carolina to a current residency in Nashville where the Country Music Hall of Fame are keen to work with many artists across the roots landscape. After all, it is all about the purposeful song. ‘All Y’all’, a song written with country writer Jason White shared a light-hearted moment and ‘Can You Feel It’ has cemented into the role of inclusive closer.

Among their armoury, The Remedy Club can also turn to country with ‘Listening to Hank’ being the pinnacle of the songs they chose to share with a roomful of first timers. Many of these songs can be found on their recent album enticingly titled LOVERS, LEGENDS & LOST CAUSES. Crossing the Irish Sea more frequently will give this record a real boost as well as allowing folks to tap into their vocal prowess and in particular, Kieran’s impressive guitar skills. The irony of the tribute song ‘Django’ was not lost especially with the ease that he moved across the fretboard. Vocally, solos and duet-inspired harmonies pour out  in assured portions. Like several other duos on the roots scene, the contrasting nature of the singing presence falls into natural categories. There is an enhanced versatility to Aileen’s vocals, which have the potential to switch into popular mode without losing the integrity of the song.

Joining the aforementioned songs in The Remedy Club’s set included the bright opener ‘I Miss You’, the darkening shades of ‘Bottom of the Hill’ and the rousing climactic closer ‘This is Love’. While the pair consciously lean on the original song, there was room for one cover, and a take on the Tony Joe White song ‘As the Crow Flies’. Any misguided assertions of a tilt towards a populist bandwagon eroded away on the evidence displayed this evening. Aileen and Kieran are set to take on the best in their own true way and make The Remedy Club an act to be reckoned. 

Enlisting two performers where a contrasting exterior masks a synergy on the inside provided a night worthy of that which makes live music special. Not every day do the southern parts of the Emerald Isle and the North American continent, blend so well to show roots music at its finest. Long may Kyshona make the long trek to share her extraordinary talent and The Remedy Club do likewise without the similar accumulation of air/sea miles.

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