Kieran Kane - Shadow On The Ground
One of the best things about being a music critic is getting free CDs. One of the worst things about being a music critic is... well, the number of free CDs you get—up to 50 a week, for those of us who do this fulltime. Where to put them all—let alone finding the time to actually listen—is something of a problem.
"And?" you say, as you play the world’s smallest violin.
I’m not saying this to elicit any sort of sympathy, of course, but to help you understand what a monumental joy it is to put on a CD and be inspired enough to dance with your dog in the kitchen.
Kieran Kane’s new release, Shadows on the Ground, (a live-in-the studio-recording) has had me and Jesse James Brown, a six-month-old golden retriever, doing the two-step for the last several days.
Shadows on the Ground is a little more traditional than we’re used to in recent years from Kane, but it’s not completely unexpected from this half of the O’Kanes, one of the first rootsy groups to be dubbed "neo-traditionalist" in the mid-’80s. The duo even had half a dozen Top 10 singles on country radio later in the decade, during "the great credibility scare," as Steve Earle termed the time, when artists like Earle, Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett and the O’Kanes were actually getting major market airplay.
With Shadows on the Ground, Kane doesn’t exactly come full circle so much as he colors in the sphere of his career with a harmonious rainbow. It’s organic, to use an overused phrase, without the usual rough edges such an adjective usually rationalizes.
Kane kicks off this particular excursion into aural joy with the quiet and sexy "Ain’t Holdin’ Back," a bluesy little 4/4 testament to going for it. He then dives right into acoustic music history with a cover of A.P. Carter’s classic, "Will You Miss Me," then slides into the title track, which could have been written 100 years ago except for its modern lyrical existential wisdom: "Who we choose to love / How we choose to pray / How we choose to live / Each and every day / Go by different roads / Go by different names / Shadows on the ground / All look the same." Bravo. "Shut Up" is a modern-spiritualist’s self-chiding; there’s also the grand traditional "Handsome Molly," the brilliantly simple "June Carter (Sure Can Sing)," and "Harmony," a beautiful duet with co-writer Claudia Scott. The rest of the disc sways from traditional to Kane’s own private, delicious brand of soulful folk, and it all is identifiably Kane.
And remember: for there to be shadows on the ground, there must be light from above. Kieran Kane stands tall in the Americana scene, and his light is a beacon.