Featuring Deanna Varagona, Richard Bennett, Lucas Kane with guest appearances by Fats Kaplin and David Olney.
Kieran Kane is an iconic songwriter and performer ... more
Kieran Kane, one of the godfathers of Americana music and founding member of the critically acclaimed Dead Reckoning record label, cracks a wide-toothed smile when talking about his new solo album, Somewhere Beyond the Roses. “We got together in a little room, basically sitting on top of each other, and had a musical conversation for two days. I’ve made somewhere between 12-15 albums and this is the album I’ve always wanted to make – I love this record.”
The “we” Kane is referring to is Deanna Varagona (Lambchop) on baritone sax, Richard Bennett (Neil Diamond, Mark Knopfler) on electric guitar, and Lucas Kane (Kane’s son and member of Kane, Welch, Kaplin) on drums. David Olney provides backing vocals on “Don’t Try To Fight It” and long-time collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin sits in on steel guitar on “Unfaithful Heart”. “I heard Deanna playing at The Family Wash in east Nashvile”, says Kane, “She was accompanying a folk singer and playing the most delicate voice-like backing lines – it was absolutely beautiful. I approached Deanna a few months later about doing the album, she said yes, and off we went. When I told my friends I was making an album centered around the banjo and the baritone sax, they thought I was crazy…til they heard it. It works, doesn’t it?”
Using an unorthodox banjo tuning (Kane’s Kay banjo is always tuned to GCGCC), nine of Somewhere Beyond the Roses’ eleven tracks are written in the key of C, and include very few, (sometimes no) chord changes. “The genius of the players of the 1950’s: Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Little Walter – I was obsessed with them and how they did so much with so little. The 1950’s-era two-chord concept has always been a big influence on my music, particularly so while I was writing the songs for this album.”
Kane’s vocals are stripped down, telling raw, intimate, and honest stories lived or once witnessed. “Why Can’t You” holds man in the grips of an unforgiving lover; “Unfaithful Heart” is a knife in the gut song about loving with restraint and trepidation; “Marriage of Convenience” may hit too close to home for some listeners with its unabashed candidness and “More To It Than This” speaks to the road weary troubadour. “Back in the late 90’s, Jamie (of The O’Kanes) and I were on tour with Merle Haggard. We walk into the lobby of a hotel after a gig and there he sits, smoking a Camel, and he looks up at us and says “Boys, there’s gotta be more to it than this.” I’ve had that line in my head for 20 years, and it took David Francey to give it a musical life.”
Many of the songs written for Somewhere Beyond the Roses were done so at Kane’s lakeside cabin refuge in the Adirondack Mountains. “The song “Anybody’s Game” was written at the cabin after spending several days listening to African music. The straightforwardness of it completely speaks to me – and my banjo playing is inspired more by African banjo than American.”
Lyrics laden with spiritual and biblical imagery might be a result of the twelve years Kane spent as a Catholic school boy in New York state. “Catholic school is something only someone who’s lived through it can understand”, laughs Kane. And if the starter track, “Way Down Below” (which really lets Varagona’s horn groove, rip and shine) is an ashes to ashes approach to life on Earth, the hymn-like “Somewhere Beyond the Roses” is its antithesis, with promises of gates of “pearly gold” and a place to “rest our weary souls”. Kane adds the caveat, “it’s not necessarily heaven. It’s the other side of whatever you’re going through – heartbreak, addiction, loss.”
Kane’s creative abilities don’t end with songwriting. He’s also an accomplished and sought after visual artist – an original Kane painting has graced all three covers of Kane Welch Kaplin’s Compass Records recordings. However, Kane turned over the art design of this release to his daughter, Lucy Kane, making Somewhere Beyond the Roses a family affair. “I completely trust my kids in their abilities and I just let Lucy go on this one. It happened to work out perfectly that she picked a plane motif – it really speaks to the “other side” and search for freedom that is an underlying them for many of the tracks on Somewhere Beyond the Roses.
Kieran Kane started his musical career in Nashville as a songwriter for Tree Publishing and in 1982 signed a deal with Elektra releasing a self-titled album which produced two Top Ten country hits: “You’re the Best” and “It’s Who You Love”. In 1986 Kane formed a duo with fellow songwriter Jamie O’Hara, called The O’Kanes. Between 1986 and 1990 The O’Kanes charted six singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, including the Number One single “Can’t Stop My Heart From Loving You”. Kane also wrote “I’ll Go On Lovin’ You” during this time, which went on to be recorded and made famous by Alan Jackson. In 1990 The O’Kanes disbanded, and in 1993 Kane was signed by Atlantic and released his next solo album, Find My Way Home, which was produced by Harry Stinson. After being dropped by Atlantic, Kane, along with Stinson, Kevin Welch, Mike Henderson, and Tammy Rogers founded independent and groundbreaking record label Dead Reckoning in 1993, with whom Kane released four solo albums. In 2004 Kane Welch Kaplin (Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch, and Fats Kaplin - joined by Lucas Kane in 2007) signed with Compass Records and have since released three albums: You Can’t Save Everybody (2004), Lost John Dean (2006), Kane Welch Kaplin (2007). His first solo album on Compass Records, Somewhere Beyond the Roses will be available in-stores July 28, 2009.