There's something warmly familiar about the debut album from Glaswegian singer-songwriter Jim Byrne that resonates with me. Being a fan of people like Will Oldham, Elliott Smith and Michael Hurley, I can appreciated the gentle, country-tinged, guitar on opening track The Handle's Broken On My Cup. While the whispery vocals on Come Dance With Me bring to mind Lambchop's Kurt Wagner. Byrne has placed himself in good company here.
What a departure though. Byrne's solo sound couldn't be further from the raucous rock of previous band Loris. Where we once had big riffs and howling choruses we've now got sweet melodies and blissful harmonies. Check out My Weather Girl for the epitome of understated pop... all 90 seconds of it!
On These Dark Nights is a beautiful album; ideal listening for those cold winter evenings. It's secret lies not only in the combination of sing-along melodies and simple instrumentation but in the vocals. With only guitars (including banjo and banjo mandolin) and, on Sunday Morning, a Wurlitzer piano to accompany the occasionally fragile-sounding voice of Byrne, the opportunity for close scrutiny is there, but it's this vulnerability to Byrne's singing that turns out to be one of his strengths.
9/10 | 17 listens