Lerner: Calm Road 12/11/12

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Lerner grew out the original Martin Ryan band around 2004.  Members at that included Martin Ryan on lead guitars and vocals, Karen O’ Doherty on Viola, Violin and vocals, Hugh Dillon on guitars and vocals and Diarmuid Galvin on bass.  After releasing debut album,
‘Still, waiting’, they added drummer and singer/songwriter Anthony Noonan on percussion and back-up vocals.  This helped to widen their live sound.  Having the assistance of in-demand producer, Karl Odlum, helped them as well.  His work with the likes of The Frames, Gemma Hayes, Ham Sandwich, Mic Christopher and Damien Dempsey certainly raised their reputation along with their growing live standings helped them to secure support dates with the likes of The Frames, Kila and Mark Geary.

This album which was released in 2009, was originally recorded in Ballinspittle between January 2007 and June 2009.  Joining the band for the sessions were Ali Arnopp on back-up vocals, Elaine McCarthy on Cello and Odlum himself on keyboards.  It is in keeping with their folky, acoustic style that has served them well so far.  Folk and mellow acoustic music may be the in-thing at the moment through bands like Mumford & Sons, Newton Faulkner and Jack Johnson, but this is no cynical cash-in from the band.  By no means is this band a leader and hired hands behind him either.  All members more than play their part throughout.

The tracks generally are just over the 3 minute mark with the longest being Track ten, Losing your mind at over 5 minutes.  Most of the tracks start off slow and melodic before finding their kick.  For example For Safe Keeping and title track, which houses a delicious solo around the 2:30 mark.  It’s not all guitar heroics from Martin and company though.  ‘Lights Die‘ contains acoustic guitars backed up by the strings.  ‘Your Cage’, is a bouncy country-ish sound with guitars and drums, on top of an opening that is almost Nick Drake like in sound.

Track six is interesting in that it contains an extended instrumental segment for about a minute that allows for the entire band to demonstrate their capabilities.  ‘Take your Turn’ sees Noonan demonstrate this yet again aided and abated by some warm vocals.  Odlum on keys certainly leaves his mark and it would be hard not to for a musician of his standard.  ‘When they left, we were in pieces’ certainly shows this.  This is definitely the most poppy sounding track of the album and very well put together.

Maybe it is an album that might require more than one listen to get the feel of the album but it does reward you.  With the nature of the music industry that we have at the moment, most of the band are lined up for session work in order to get a regular income.  This unfortunately means they are unsure to when they will be able to play live as a band on a regular basis.  This would be a shame as music like this needs to be listened to in the live arena to get the full benefit of it.

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