There were a few moments during Romantica’s concert in Fitzroy, when I closed my eyes, raised my clasped hands and felt my soul utterly bask in a sound as beautiful as I have ever heard in my entire life. I have been to a lot of concerts, seen most of my very favourite artists and enjoyed them more than immensely but it is the first time I have ever caught my body and soul in this posture of utter bliss!
You can tell that I enjoyed it!
I found myself in the whispy thought trails of my post gig imagination asking why? Romantica’s sound is so effortless. I am reminded of the Pernice Brothers or Band Of Horses. It’s a sound that gently washes over you like the caressing of a refreshing wave. It seems so effortless and simple.
Yet, when you marinate on how they make it seem so easy, you become aware of the complexity. The melodies, the poetry, the harmonies, every guitar lick, bass note, drum beat and that gorgeous yearning pedal steel cry. It is all so intentional. All so utterly perfect to my ears.
Then there is Ben Kyle’s voice. Oh my goodness. There is no need for rasp or power. Like velvet. Seductive of ears and soul.
During the set, Kyle courageously opened up to the audience, asking for questions. When asked how he kept the passion he answered in a humble Ben Kyle way, “You take what you’ve been given…”
That is what he does with that voice. It’s a divine gift and Ben takes what he has been given and sets the most most spiritual nuggets of wisdom into every day songs. This is not some throw back to Christian music in the 90s. This is the authentic alt country thing. Yet, into every day songs of friendship, love and family, Kyle dabs little couplets of light, sometimes into dark places of heartache and grief.
I was, as the fan in me always is, chuffed to have God Walks On The Water dedicated to me. A song I have used to deal with grief, there comes that dab of light:
God walks on the water
I walk through the rain
One day we're gonna walk together
When he comes back again
Being greedy I shouted for Drink The Night Away about School’s Cup winning hockey buddies of Ben’s who died in a car crash in Donegal. There’s teenage bravado in drinking the night away and Ben asks what Jesus was thinking of to have these boys die… but then finished with:
"What was Jesus thinking,
When he let you sink in to the arms of the Lord?
When he took the cup,
Lifted it up,
Drank the night away”
It is one of many moments when I let out a little gasp!
After hearing with a post song gasp, Get Back In Love, Give Your Heart Shelter, Don’t Settle and Mercy I was becoming aware that maybe the most of my favourite songs from the last few years have come from this Belfast boy now living in Minneapolis.
Best of all is Harder To Hear, a song about a soul seeking a compass in a world that drowns out the voice we most need to hear:
It’s getting harder to hear from God these days
Harder to hear from God
There’s so much religion in the way
So much superstition in the way
Oh somebody save me
Somebody save me
I don’t want to be cool
Somebody shine a light
somebody shine a light on this soul tonight
I don’t wanna be right
I cannot get enough of this. So thrilled to have them in what pretty much is my office on a Sunday morning. It’s always good to have a soul soaked bask in a familiar space!