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'Unless And Until'   

-  Label: 'Self Released'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: 'January 2018'

Our Rating:
Precisely why there is a ragged looking buffalo on the cover of this folk duo's debut album is a mystery. Nor are there any clues to be found in the opening song (Long Day) which contains the album title and begins like this: "Tempers cooling on the window sill / My kingdom for a hill /There'll be no harvest here unless and until/And the world weighs me down".

What these lyrics do illustrate is that these Toronto-based Kelly brothers, John and Joe, are fond of using language which is impressionistic and enigmatic.

The acoustic songs seem to be a series of quests to find ways to talk about feelings and situations that are hard to put into words. There's more than a hint of frustration too in a line like "These aren't the words that I want to write" from Scar.

The duo describe their songs as "unearthing the epic in the everyday" and they reflect upon the challenge of writing/singing about love and death; war and peace without sounding clichéd or sentimental.

For instance, If I Could Only is about searching for "a poet's tongue" to articulate the depth of emotions towards a lover.

In Hey Jane there's also a suggestion that we set too much store by the truth since the object of the singer's affection is given free rein to be deceitful: "share your lies with me and I won't even care".

Death is the shadow overhanging all these dilemmas. In Scatter My Ashes, the more the singer implores the listener not to make tributes or shed tears if/when he passes, the more it seems to express a fear of being forgotten. A lonely voice from the grave is also the subject of the final song, Don't Lay Me Down.

Songs such as these ensure that the overall tone of the album is both morbid and melancholy. Within the 14 songs and almost an hour's worth of music there's not much to lighten the mood so you are left feeling as grumpy as the buffalo cover star.

The Kelly Song Collective's website
  author: Martin Raybould

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