Montag, 28. Oktober 2013

Album review: 'Joe Symes and the Loving Kind' - acoustic abysses of harmonious, bluesy depth and rousing, ambient melodies

Love is almighty and unpredictable. Music love is so too. It strikes you, often by surprise yet comes with the pleasant feeling of certainty and intensity. You fall for songs that bare the composists', vocalists' and instrumentalists' soul and emotions, that reveal tonal, vocal and lyrical characteristics to cherish, that unleash enthusiasm about and eager excitement for the music to play on. It's somehow magical and once your under the music's spell you're mesmerized … and you're wondering, wondering if there's any chance to see the artists behind those compelling compositions live. Often it takes less to realize you can't. At least you can't see them all. Social media makes music accessible though: it's an easy and rather quick process to find songs, all you need to do is to listen. To the musicians promoting it, to the sound that is about to evolve. In the age of connecting and sharing, you're also offered acceptable alternatives (yet not equally qualitive options) to make up for missed live shows: live streams of performances, live in concert dvds and live albums.

And I'm grateful for all this. I depend on all this since most of the musicians I've grown fond of are either based in the UK area (Liverpool, Essex, Manchester …), in the canadian realm (Toronto, Vancouver...) or in the southern california/OC area. I've adapted to the initial situation of not being able to attend those musicians' shows yet, enjoy the for me, for now conrete and corporeal concepts of 'live' music, I thoroughly do … and found once more that there's quality, profundity and soul within them. Simply put: the charm, the magic, the atmosphere of the live performances are captured, not fully but in a way that pleases, for the moment, that creates anticipation and at last hope, hope to one day be able to purchase tickets for the shows you always dreamed of attending.

Album cover of Joe Symes and the Loving Kind's eponymous debut album 

Joe Symes and the Loving Kind have granted me this exhilarating, this satisfying moment of imagining to stand in the crowd, to be part of their audience, to move to their music's beat, to have the full live experience in such an intense way that at times when I closed my eyes whilst listening I even believed it myself I was at one of their gigs. By indulging in their self-titled album it is indeed as if you witness a night of live music. The album's live recording concept is impressive, evocative and has a lasting effect. Now without any further ado, let the five-piece acoustic rock band from Liverpool take the stage and let me escort you through a wonderful set of deep - laid and distinct acoustic splendor.

Tension, excitement and the audience's murmur blur as the dynamic and rhythmic instrumental intro of 'Fallen Down' burts in. Joe Symes and the Loving Kind have everyone's attention by now, the silence only intrupted by the scratchy and acute guitar riffs, the bluesy and husky vocals as well as the atmospheric harmonica melody tells so. It's a sweeping sound, one to tap your feet to. 'Don't look back whatever you do, you don't care there coming for you' – the band shows an enthusiastic and almost cocky attitude: they create progressive music, music written, composed and performed only under their conditions and terms as artists.

A swift yet intense drum intro resounds. Ambient guitar melodies pervade the air, brisk bass elements blend in the instrumental sonority as the first notes of 'Fine Line' are played. Melodic and stirring keyboard sound joins in, a harmonious instrumental addition of trumpets complements the song. Whilst indulging, you're carried away by the music, transient, pictorial fragments are evoked by soulful and smoothly reverberating vocals. Vocals that mingle all to well with the orotund yet lithe sound of the trumpets throughout the second part of the song. You're carried away to a bar in the 60s, the room is packed, people talk, the music though is imposant and sonorous: it's an atmospheric setting for an atmospheric song, and 'Fine Line' is indeed a thought out and alluring, above all an evocative track.

                                                                             Joe Symes and the Loving Kind - Ready To Ride 

A tribute to the audacious yet reminiscing lovers: 'Ready To Ride' is introduced to the audience with a gentle but dominant keyboard melody. Tender and charmingly fluent vocals help to create a pleasent still tense listening atmosphere and the scenic, driven sound makes your mind and imagination wander. It might wander to a cafe on a rainy day, to a man, who dwells on his thoughts, relents whilst thinking about the present and past, letting memories take the lead on an emotional journey, in a story that tells about the highs and lows of love. 'Ready To Ride' depends on melancholia about lost and anticipation for novel love.

Melodic and delicate keyboard sound, reserved drum tones and soft,enthusiastic vocals segue into the next song that is distinctive of a dulcet and dreamy instrumentation. Eidetic and narrative lyrics, soothing vocals take you along for a walk: 'end of the night I hear you calling, take me to where the stars are falling, moonlight swallows in me...' - it's a walk in the dimly moonlight, two lovers recall their (clandestine) relationship yet one reminds to enjoy the now - 'you know me I got a bit tired of talking' - as he has realized their destiny is in the hands of a power beyond their reach 'moonlight swallow in me, heaven knows your destiny'.The story unfolds and so does 'Lovers Undercover', an instrumental solo backed by elated vocal murmur, echoing yet delicate 'choir' elements stresses the love story told.

As the song falls silent, you find yourself back in the room where the band is all set to perform yet another perceptive and heartfelt composition. You're reverted to the place the music has taken you first.

The ambient sound of an acoustic guitar allows the vocals time to unfold, they are focused and convey a melancholic feel, they are backed by a placid instrumentation that stresses the lyrics' message and thereby accentuates the storytelling character of 'Happy When It Hurts'. The song tells about facing someone you loved once, about reminiscing and mentally experiencing stages of one's bygone love affair once more. It does so in a poignant way and through a conspicious compositional progression: melodic guitar sound lingers on your mind as memories, evoked by the encounter of two former lovers, come back to surface. The listener then is carried away to the time the lovers met, shares their moments of happiness whilst light drum, smooth guitar sound and subtle keyboard melodies merge in the emotional vocals and eventually grow into being a tonal and lyrical flashback. A flashback that gains melodic intensity and depth due to vocal 'choir' elements right before and right after the expressive and imbuing harmonica interlude. Both vocals and instrumentals fade out, silence, a storytelling outro follows. and just as the song ends with sweeping acoustic guitar riffs, the love affair is put behind. The audience shows affection, maybe empathy, by applauding.

We are halfway through this music night, the band takes time for an instrumental interlude and addresses the audience whilst languorous keyboard melodies sound in a light and euphonious manner. The music of Joe Symes and the Loving Kind is universal one, melodic, atmospheric, unaltered and symphonious. As the audience is addressed ('ladies and gentlemen, cats and dogs') it shows the band is well aware of this premise, is at least convinced they create memorable and pleasing music. And they do without a doubt.

The follow-up song comes in with ambivalent dynamics and inconsistent melodic transitions, both strike intensively and leave a lasting impression on the listener. 'Love Is The Reason' opens with mellow keyboard and string section elements, reserved cymbal effects and edgy vocals that gain quickly strength, resound vibrantly, at times even fuzzily. Drum beats and guitar riffs enhance, a fluid and rapid still intense and thrilling melodic concept is presented and enforced by a rather long instrumental solo, an instrumental solo that is haunting and incisive in sound. 'I've been lost and found' - evocative vocals set in again, complemented by vigorous drum sound. Suddenly the song ends and the audience finds itself left with the pleasent tension and antcipiation for the progress of the live set.

                                                                Joe Symes and the Loving Kind - World Out Your Window

Joe Symes and the Loving Kind rely once more on an acoustic guitar focused composition with 'World Out Your Window'. The drastic and imbuing instrumental melody, rather calm in sound, combined with sensitive and expressive vocals picks up speed when dynamic drum beats set in after the song's chorus. The gently expanding, emotionally charged and eccentric vocals remain though in the course of the track and bear witness to the perception that memories of the past should be cherished, should be recalled, but that there comes the time too one should be ready to move on, to explore the vastness of opportunities there is.

                                                  Joe Symes and the Loving Kind - Where Do I Belong (official music video)

The band's finish is acutely and atmospherically staged: 'Where Do I Belong' works well as musical closure since it's both powerful and soulful in sound. Rasping and trenchant vocals coalesce with fierce and gripping guitar hooks as well as with vehement drum sound and shape a harmonically streaming and multifarious song. Placid and laid-back keyboard melodies put final touches to the composition.

Now, after you have indulged in the soothing still striking and stirring songs of the acoustic revelation that is Joe Symes and theLoving Kind, after you have been carried away by their dreamful yet dynamic sound, ask yourself: where do you belong? It's in this very room where the imaginative live show has just taken place. It's where the music reaches out to you, moves and captures you. Hold on to this feeling, these memories and relive them. You ask for an encore - and you'll be granted it. Press the 'play button' once more and go on a musical journey, a bluesy and atmospheric visionary voyage awaits you.

Joe Symes and the Loving Kind are managed by Truly Independent

Find out more about Joe Symes and the Loving Kind at their official website ...

...  reach out to them on ...


... and listen to interviews with the band, watch live performances of Joe Symes and the Loving Kind on YouTube and via Culture City TV


  1. This is a superb review, Nessi. Structuring it thematically compliments the album nicely. It really puts you in the headspace to want to listen and indulge in the sound. I own this album (and quite enjoy it, listening on a regular basis), but after reading the review, I plan on making my next listen an indulgence as you describe; to get lost in the concert experience from just the album. Well written and really does this great album (and band) justice!

  2. Thank you, Michael (you're probably my most enthusiastic supporter and a really great friend, thanks for that!).It was quite an experience for me too, to approach music this way. But the album simply made me to write about it just as it has been done. It really invites to indulge in the sound, and is such an atmospheric piece of work, piece of music. Enjoy listening to it again, hope you can somehow relate to what I told about the songs in particular.