Reviews for October
From The Rocking Magpie, UK:
Powerful and Introspective Modern British Indie Folk From America!
‘Liking’ a particular musician or band is incredibly personal and subjective, regularly making no sense at all. I first encountered Bobbo Byrnes via his 2018, TWO SIDES TO THIS TOWN album, which I gave a very positive review to; but it was the follow up; RED WHEELBARROW that made me a fan.
With hindsight there’s not a lot to choose between the two; you can certainly hear that there’s a difference; some kind of progression in the style of songwriting even; but why I would wear one CD out and not the other; makes no physical sense … does it?
Now, another three albums on, Byrnes has all but ditched the Americana/Alt. Country formula that has done him proud so far; so nothing has prepared me for these songs … nothing.
First of all there’s some electronica jiggery-pokery that opens the first song; (Warren Sroka’s) Cold War … and continues throughout as Byrnes dives headlong into what I’d normally think of as Modern British Indie Folk!
The song is universal, and at the very least thought provoking; but the construction owes a lot more to the likes of Waterboys, Ian McNabb or even bloomin’ Ed Sheeran than it does anyone born on the other side of the Atlantic.
As the album progresses, the thing that has surprised and impressed me most is the intricate and imaginative way Byrnes plays his guitar ….. for a Modern Folk album (IMHO) there are Jazz and Blues flourishes here and there complimenting his impassioned songs and stories; the songs Untitled and Time Enough being prime examples; but there are others in there too.
Once his existing fans get over the initial shock of the change in direction; they are in for a veritable treat, with The Sea and Time Enough being deceptively simple songs on first hearing but evolve into ever more thoughtful and personal songs that would make fans of Ed Sheeran and Glen Hansard proud to own.
While the production behind the songs sounds complex; I have the feeling that this is the way Bobbo Byrnes can achieve (this sound) on stage as a solo performer; none more so than Brendan Behan’s Contemporary-Sea Shanty Crooked Jack; which reminded me of the Roger McGuinn album of similar stories, many years ago.
If I’m honest it’s taken a while to fully comprehend and truly appreciate what Bobbo Byrnes has created here; but there was a ‘Eureka moment’ a few days ago; and now I’m smitten; which has also made selecting a Favourite Song all the more difficult.
As a for-instance; even though I own a Bluegrass version; so I know it can be disseminated; I didn’t recognise Bowie’s magnificent Heroes for a few days; then ….. WOW …. it hit me like punch to the gut ….. what an incredible job Byrnes has done; and the windswept backing takes it into an arena Ziggy could never have dreamed of.
There’s even a beautiful instrumental here; October, and again highlighting Byrnes’ dexterity with an acoustic guitar.
But; I’m sticking with Byrnes’ own words for my actual ‘Favourite Song’ and it too is ‘Magnificent’ and a song that will make your jaw drop; such is the power and imagery that House of Cards creates I’ve had to turn the dial up to 9 so as not to miss a single word; and I urge you to, too when you buy your copy.
A sudden change of direction for one of my Favourite Alt. Country acts; but a very welcome one; and one that deserves your attention in many ways.
The Tinnitist feature 1/12/2023
From Rock 'n' Roll Truth: New Music: Bobbo Byrnes' 'October'; Shania Twain's 'Queen of Me'
You might like if you enjoy: The Fallen Stars, Bruce Cockburn, Celtic folk, Americana
Bobbo Byrnes' new album October marks a welcome return for the talented singer-songwriter. Byrnes uses his gifts as singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, mandolin) to deliver a strong set of nine acoustic gems. While on tour in Europe in the fall of 2022, Byrnes had the opportunity to record at the legendary Hansa Studios in Berlin, Germany and at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland. The results of those rich sessions have yielded selections that blend traditional folk with layered sound effects that provide enhanced soundscapes across the disc. "The Sea" benefits from an especially strong arrangement of more quiet verses that give way to driving instrumental sections; the dual use of driving guitar and mandolin further define this great cut. The lovely instrumental "October" fuses Byrnes' nuanced work on the acoustic guitar with the otherworldly layers of an e-bow. "Untitled" is a lovely and yearning nugget, with Byrnes' evocative vocals enhanced by sparse guitar accompaniment. Byrnes really immerses himself in a haunting Celtic-flavored cover of "Crooked Jack." His version of David Bowie's classic "Heroes" — the original version was recorded by Bowie at Hansa Studio in 1977 — is especially impressive, with Byrnes effectively building the power of the song with a combination of vocal firepower, well played rhythm guitar and soaring e-bow. Byrnes will celebrate the release of his new album October with a CD release show at The Harp Inn in Costa Mesa, playing 8-10 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9.
Metronome Magazine, Boston, MA:
While touring in Europe during the Fall of 2022, world traveling troubadour Bobbo Byrnes was afforded the opportunity to record at the fabled Hansa (Germany) and Windmill Lane (Ireland) Studios. Never one to refuse a fascinating musical experience, Byrnes brought in his guitar, mandolin, e-bow and delay pedal along with a handful of songs and let the tape roll capturing not only his ever growing musical essence, but the unique aural characteristics of each studio. The outcome is a magnificent, chiming collection of songs that resonate with honest aplomb.
Byrnes claims to have been intimidated recording in the hallow halls that U2 and Bowie once inhabited, but after listening to these purely penned numbers, you’d never know it. Maybe it’s Byrnes’ time to shine and just maybe, the universe aligned to give him his very own moment in the sun. Either way, after listening, I think you’ll agree something magical happened.
I finally got a chance to get some uninterrupted time to sit and listen to Bobbo Byrnes’ latest release, October.
It certainly conjures up a specific time and place as the title suggests. The production is ethereal in nature; lots of ceiling, so it has this melancholic, reflective tone that evokes that time of year as the cold wind of the coming season encroaches upon a serene Summer. Cold War is a damned fine kickoff to the album, cool cover, and anything that references the attempt at eating 50 eggs is alright by me. It’s got that late 80’s Starfish shimmer and shine. The Sea is raw, as are the thoughts of the narrator as he reflects upon the magic and mystery of this weary world through the lens of the sea and all its contradictions.
The title track takes us out on that sea through its instrumental contemplation. You can almost feel those winds shift, foretelling what might lie ahead. Untitled expands upon that journey. There’s a yearning in B. Byrnes’ voice. It begs the stars for that balance; to live in the greater world, coupled with a desire to live and breathe in that little corner of time and place that is his and his only. House of cards is sung through the eyes of a 15 year old that’s seen too much. There is a profound sense of sadness and loss in John. The people he needed most weren’t able to be what he needed from them. Their frailties were too great to overcome.
Crooked Jack sings of the plight of the Scottish and Irish workers with the terrible conditions they endured on an Ill fated Hydro Dam project while this speaks to poor working conditions worldwide throughout history as the melody draws from a penned tune thought to have been written in the Middle Ages. Recorded in the very same place David Bowie recorded the very same song (Hansa 2 Studio in West Berlin, Germany), Heroes is a slow burn reading of this masterwork. It builds with unadorned acoustic and voice. As it builds, the best production instincts of Daniel Lanois comes to mind as plaintive guitar atmospherics circle overhead, calling us to greater heights without resorting to melodramatic overtures. Time Enough is the question. How do we separate the wheat from the chaff as we dodge the distractions of the human condition? Is there really time to figure it all out? October closes with Too Many Miles; a hymn of sorts. It cries for what might have been as it speaks about distance both physical and emotional. It evokes an image of those still moments late into the evening when there’s nothing but the hum of the fridge, the ring in your ears and those private thoughts.
October is a superb record and I highly recommend a listen. Bobbo invites you on a journey you won’t soon forget.
~Morgan Keating February 2023
Rootstime (translated from Dutch)
The alt.country and Americana singer and songwriter Bobbo Byrnes moved from Boston to southern California where he founded the Americana formation 'The Fallen Stars' in Orange County, a band in which his wife Tracy Byrnes also plays on bass guitar. In addition, he and her also played in the group “Riddle And The Stars” with Australian singer-songwriter Ben Riddle as frontman. Since 2017, however, Bobbo has mainly performed as a solo artist, drawing on an extensive discography, consisting of the albums “Motel Americana” from 2017, “Two Sides To This Town” from 2018, “The Red Wheelbarrow” from 2019, “SeaGreenNumber5 ” from 2020 and “So Many Bars, So Many Saturday Nights” from 2021.
There is now a sixth solo album entitled “October” and was released on January 1, 2023 by Bobbo Byrnes. This record consists of nine songs, six of which he wrote himself, and is complemented by a beautiful acoustic guitar version of David Bowie's song “Heroes”, which can be heard below on the second audio video. The other video features the first single pulled from “October”: “The Cold War,” a song composed by Sean Sroka, the Canadian songwriter for the folk group Ten Kills The Pack. The third cover song is the politically colored song “Crooked Jack”, a composition by the Irish activist and songwriter Dominic Behan about the suffering of the many impoverished Irish workers. The lo-fi played calming album title track “October” is the only instrumental track from this record.
This album was recorded in two European studios in the fall of 2022 during Bobbo Byrnes' European tour for just two days in October: on October 6 at the 'Hansa Studios' in Berlin, Germany and on October 21 at the 'Windmill Lane Studios' in Dublin, Ireland. These are two historic recording rooms where classic albums by Lou Reed, David Bowie, 'U2' and 'The Waterboys' were recorded in the past. The few basic instruments he used were available for his performances in Europe: an acoustic guitar, a mandolin, an e-bow and a delay pedal. It ensures that the record is quite soberly orchestrated, but therefore also sounds very intimate and personal, partly thanks to the narrative lyrics that he wrote for those songs. Illustrative examples of this include the songs “The Sea”, “Untitled”, “House Of Cards” and album closing “Too Many Miles”, composed by Bobbo Byrnes himself.
The Alternate Root
(by Danny McCloskey)
For Bobbo Byrnes, recording October, his latest release, didn’t take a village. October required an ocean between Bobbo Byrnes and his comfort zone to find the song-delivering muse. Bobbo was touring Europe in fall 2022, a man with guitar and mandolin. He also had a batch of songs he packed for the trip and, while overseas, entered Hansa Studios in Berlin, Germany and at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland to capture the tracks. The result is October, a fiercely personal accounting of what Bobbo Byrnes sees as ‘some of the least radio-accessible songs’. A Folksinger for 2023, Bobbo Byrnes incorporates studio technology with the man/guitar model, achieving success with an album that benefits from what modern studios can offer without using gimmickry or mix-fixing for final results.
A sonic overture of seemingly disparate notes opens October, the sound quieting to a strum as Bobbo Byrnes begins the song cycle with “The Cold War”. He introduces “Crooked Jack” with a story told with in an echoed vocal backed by chiming guitar chords as October twists acoustic strums into a revolving rhythm for the story of “Time Enough” while quietly honoring “Heroes” when Bobbo covers David Bowie. Though the man standing at the microphone holds just a guitar, October is alive with sounds, presenting an album more in line with modern Indie music than the Folk of 1960’s coffee houses. Bobbo Byrnes shuffles “House of Cards” in the persona of Little John, wrapping warm guitar notes around the title track, closing out October as man and guitar presenting the tale of “Too Many Miles”.