Americana Pop Folk Country
At first glance the irony is thick on Romantica’s new release America. Penned by an immigrant Irishman who writes a fair bit about his homeland, and delivers his nostalgia in a lilting Belfastian inflection, the only thing ‘America’ about it seems to be the new soil on which he’s singing. But listen to all this Irishness couched in the musical landscape of historically American country and folk music painted by the swirling pedal steel guitar of Eric Heywood (Ray LaMontagne, Son Volt, Richard Buckner) and the emotive fiddling of Jessy Greene (Wilco, Jayhawks, Minus 5) and it comes clear why Rolling Stone’s Melissa Maerz called it “Americana, (that’s) something more than the sound of the states” You’ll hear fingerprints of true American artists, Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, and Iron and Wine, as well as a few from across the pond such as, Damien Rice, Nick Drake and Van Morrison.
Mariachi horns on a tex-mex train, The National Side chronicles the transplanting of singer Ben Kyle’s family from the green shores of Ireland to the Northern Americas. Kyle’s mother was a hockey player on the Irish national side, and his father a medical doctor before they moved to the United States in 1994. Ixcatan describes an outlaw shooting in the mountains of mid-Mexico in haunting and brooding but sublimely beautiful colors. The gravity of Kyle’s voice hovering upon the weightlessness of Mr Heywood’s soaring steel guitar creates a holy tension that paints death in the most transcendent of lights.
Recorded entirely at home, in a studio built by the band, and almost entirely through one microphone and one pre-amp, Ben Kyle’s lush and effortless, airy vocals set the tone for this oft-times breezy and sometimes haunting, atmospheric record. Guitars, keys and essential harmonies come courtesy of Luke Jacobs. Steady, subtle and often poignant percussion is contributed by touring veteran James Orvis. And as mentioned above, string duties are performed by Romantica’s latest addition, Jessy Greene. who brings a wealth of experience and depth from her history of pop and americana endeavors.
This is the follow-up to Romantica’s debut It’s Your Weakness That I Want which sat comfortably in the CMJ top 200 for over 2 months and received sustained airplay on Twin Cities FM megastations KQRS and Cities 97, as well as MPR’s influential indie station, 89.3 The Current. It also won numerous awards including Best Americana Album at the 2004 Minnesota Music Awards and two International Songwriting Competition awards: On My Mind took 2nd place in the AAA category in 2004 and Mexico took 1st place in the Performance category in 2005. An early release of America’s lead track Queen of Hearts won 2nd Place in the Americana category of the same competition this year!
The early critical response has been promising:
Paste Magazine gave the album 4 Stars and said, “Romantica is here to save the day. Most albums with such ambitious titles fall flat in the attempt; Kyle, in songs and voice that sit comfortably between Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams, dwells comfortably in the long shadows cast by his forefathers while leaving his own undeniable stamp on the proceedings. Top notch.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune has called it one of the “10 best Local albums of 2007 so far.” Chris Riemenschnieder writes, “In a perfect world, the soccer, er, football ditty “The National Side” would score on local FM stations.”
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“Amazingly good. Such a distinct voice and writing style, and arranged so perfectly. I was really taken by it.” – Michael McCall (Associated Press)
“A Sleeping Giant” – Huffington Post
“Sweet harmonies, delicate melodies, a warm intimate feel, everything judged to exquisite perfection; this is one of those rare albums where not a foot is put wrong.” – Maverick