Bap Kennedy, formerly of Energy Orchard, has paired up with Steve Earle to record his debut solo album, Domestic Blues, for Earle’s E-Squared label. It’s a low-key affair, summed up well by the lyrics of “Mostly Water”: “Shout all want/ It doesn’t matter/ Don’t you know that I’m mostly water”
The playing is wonderful, with the same cast of musicians that appeared on Earle’s Train a Comin’ album, substituting Jerry Douglas on dobro for Norman Blake. Kennedy’s version of “Angel is the Devil” from that record is highlighted by Kennedy’s strong voice. The record deals with affairs of the heart, but they rarely could be called happy songs — it’s called Domestic Blues after all!
The album picks up steam as it nears the end, with Kennedy’s Irish heritage driving “The Ghosts of Belfast” and “The Shankill and the Falls.” Between these is the rollicking “My Money,” featuring the piano of Keith Weir. The disc ends with a hidden track, a duet between Kennedy and Earle on “Dirty Old Town,” a tune made famous by the Pogues.
This record doesn’t shout and stomp, (we might have to wait for the promised Domestic Bliss for that) but it does what it sets out to do, showcasing Bap Kennedy’s songwriting and vocal talents in the company of a cast of good players. E-Squared, 1815 Division St., Suite 101, Nashville, TN 37203