For the North Pole
Smooth-as-silk banjo and fiddle plucks, plus guitar overlays that recall Dave Rawlings, tend to dictate much of James Kenyon’s The North Pole. Providing an emotional roadmap of South Eastern Australia, the former shearer’s hand, arborist and social worker meditates on his songs, their construction and the lyrical output like a noble songwriter should.
Effortless sonic narratives delivered seamlessly, with a troubadour-tinged twang all blur together to make Kenyon’s release an earnest and melancholy ride filled with a sense of purpose and drive. You can file this under the folk, or country/folk tag and return to its earthy tones time and time again, which are testament to the strength of the record. ‘Red Wine’ is perhaps the genre-breaker on the release, a sleepy, waltz-driven blues and reggae parable that recalls a slice of Colin Hay and some timeworn Caribbean trooper.
Where ‘35 Degrees’ resumes back on the thread of serenity and fingerpicking intellect that will conjure up all manner of chin-stroking, pensiveness follows with ‘Flying High’ and its calming sway. Then ‘The Calder’ moves things up a notch or two in terms of urgency as Kenyon continues on with his road journey over the vast highway. And as the presser states, “The broad skies, passing wheat silos, river crossings, grey suburbs and power lines merge memory and imagination in song.”
That’s The North Pole right there. Sweetness and light with a nomadic theme attached and a collection of songs that stands tall throughout and makes for a unified trip for the ages. The purely instrumental ‘Calder Inbound’ will melt the frostiest while closer ‘Warooka’, the ode to the township on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, is again all heart.
By Nick Argyriou
# James Kenyon – The North Pole #
Rip it Up Magazine
For the North Pole
James Kenyon – not from Kenya as the nature of his name would suggest, but actually one of our homebrews. Originally hailing from Gawler, South Australia, Kenyon’s unfortunately moved to Melbourne to study. That’s okay. We won’t judge. Much.
Now these husky yet gentle pipes hardly strike you has the voice of a construction worker, but maybe these cats are more sensitive then they appear. Kenyon now brings to you The North Pole,hosting a charming shape and, despite its title, a distinct lack of Christmas bells, which I’m very excited about.
Just when you think these tunes are destined to be sun-drenched in sweetness, brooding dark moments appear that entice you further. That double bass creeps in on the first track Like Old Sundays and proceeds to frolic all over your spine for the reminder of the record. It does wonderful things for your latissimus dorsi (I’m pretty sure that's a muscle in the back). From the first pluck of that tender banjo the good vibes just smack you in the nostrils. The picked melodies are paired with some distorted brass and a welcomed female presence that wanders in at all the right moments, complementing the music beautifully.
Become engulfed within Kenyon’s selection of songs that speak of memories, Sundays and red, red wine. An absolute smooth drop.