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coverpic flag Ireland - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 12 - 10/16/97

Nick Kelly
Between Trapezes
Self Possessed Records (CD only)

Ireland. Are there any good Irish bands? Undertones, Horslips, Thin Lizzy, early Clannad. But it's, hey, nearly 20 years ago! Well, there are things happening these days, Divine Comedy and Tunic to name a couple. A few years ago the improperly named The Fat Lady Sings released a couple of decent LPs and a handful of singles in the beginning of the 90's (I rate Twist, their debut album, as one of 1991's top 5 records). I was lucky enough to catch them live a few times during these years - once in 1990, where they were supported by the awful Carter - The Unstoppable Sex Machine at a small pub in London - I think it was called The Oval (don't tell me you were there, too?). They probably didn't fare too well among the record-buying audience though, despite quite a good backing from some of the British press and a certain faith among the folks at EastWest Records.

The Lady is no more, but their main songwriter and singer, Nick Kelly, is here with his first solo record. The Fat Lady Sings had a long running newsletter through all these years, and so made a lot of friends. Now, some of these friends have sponsored the cost of this album's initial pressing. That was a really, really good idea.

Between Trapezes has become a well of strong melodies wrapped in lovely arrangements, with Kelly's strong voice up front all the way. The latter is the first thing you notice about this album, and he makes music that fits his voice so well. Sometimes it's soft, sometimes convincing, affected, even arrogant at times. But it is definitely there, or rather, here. I'm reminded of Chris Thomson of the criminally underrated Scottish band The Bathers.

It's funny really - how can a man that is so full of life and humour when playing live, write so melancholic and sad songs? He seems to have a really troubled love-life, which he lays bare completely in some of his lyrics, as in Lover's Easy To Say, maybe the song that reminds me most of his former band:

Define your goals are they just wheels
to speed you away from me and this world I built for us?
Some kind of souped-up dream machine
that won't be bothered with a one-bit no-horse town like me?
He calls you "lover" that worthless jerk
who wastes your time with wind-up poses
I suppose you think that love means
never having to say that you're alone.

There are a lot of good songs here, with Faint Heart, Crawl (with a delightful string section and backing vocals by Miriam Ingram) and Grey And Blue (alone with a near silent acoustic guitar to accompany him). The last song, Walking Back To My Heart is fortunately uplifting:

I gather my bags and I carry them and I love this weight
and I love this sense that I love for real
I'm a working part I'm walking back to my heart
I'm walking back to my heart..."

So, there's hope after all?

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