Bap Kennedy - Howl On
After working with country wild child Steve Earle in the past and being no stranger to the upper echelons of Billboard's Americana top ten, it comes as no surprise that Belfast born Bap Kennedy holds much fondness for the good old USA. Kennedy has never made any secret of his country-rock tendencies and Howl On, his fourth solo album, is no exception to the rule.
The LP itself is a nostalgic trip through American social and cultural history, taking in the 1969 moon landings, JFK, the cold war and Jimi Hendrix bringing Woodstock to its knees. Album opener America is a sentimental look across the ocean with a slow and smooth acoustic-driven beat with laid back vocals that unsurprisingly declare, ‘All I want to do/Is to be like you’.
A country soaked cover of Hey Joe, the song that helped make Hendrix, is a particular stand out, displaying a more upbeat tempo and optimistic tone than the Seattle axeman’s version. It’s not better, but it’s an interesting take on the classic. Ballad of Neil Armstrong wraps up the album nicely with Kennedy recalling the first man on the moon ‘sailing into the void’, yet still heading for greatness. Suddenly, Belfast to Nashville doesn’t seem quite so distant.