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Shred Kelly: Blurry Vision
(Independent release, as broadcast on WVIA-FM 11/8/2023)
Canada had produced perhaps a disproportionate number of notable performers and bands for size of the population, from Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, and Leonard Cohen, through the band Rush, the Barenaked Ladies, to Celine Dion, Nickleback and Justin Bieber to name a few. This week, we have another worthy Canadian band who I think deserve wider recognition south of the border. They are Shred Kelly, a folk-influenced alternative band, who have just released their sixth album called Blurry Vision.
Shred Kelly are from Fernie, British Columbia, in the Canadian Rockies, where they met playing open mic nights, and formed the band in 2009. They released their first album called Goodbye July in 2010, and have been touring, regularly playing folk festival events, and made their way to perform at the South by Southwest conference in Texas. Along the way, there were some personnel changes. The current lineup includes original members Sage McBride, on vocals and keyboards, and Ty West on guitar, plus more recent additions, guitarist, vocalist and banjo player Tim Newton and drummer Ryan Middleburger. The bassist on the album is a hired gun, Ric Behan.
Their new album is a nice blend of folk influence, especially when Newman gets out his banjo, plus more contemporary rock influences – one can hear a little hints of from the sound of the band Coldplay. Their lyrics are more thoughtful than many in the genre, often philosophical, considering life in general and one’s time on earth. Sage McBride and Tim Newton alternate vocals, adding more variety to the sound. And on the album, Shred Kelly likes to mix it up with dynamics, with tunes sometimes going from a mostly acoustic to all-out electric.
Opening is a track called Stained Glass, a kind of love song sung by Ms. McBride. Like other tunes on the album, the piece starts quietly <<>> and builds to a big crescendo. <<>>
Tim Newton’s banjo adds an interesting texture to the more rock-oriented tune called Blissfully Unaware expressing a kind of longing for the good old days. <<>>
Expressing a somewhat similar thought is a tune called Better Times which becomes a sort of hoedown with the banjo. <<>>
Heading in a more a rock direction is Cracks in the Finish which has all the ingredients for a pop hit, and it’s well done. <<>>
Another example of the album’s philosophical lyrics comes on the song Days We Have Left which considers the inevitable passage of time. <<>>
The band goes almost punk on the track Another Place something which is tempered by the banjo. <<>>
Perhaps the most straight-out love song is Lost Without You, a piece that spotlights the best aspects of the band’s sound. <<>>
The album ends with its lengthiest track Nothing for a While which is a kind of suite, running from the introspective-sounding to the all-out rock. <<>>
Blurry Vision the new sixth album from the Western Canadian band Shred Kelly, is probably their best yet. The quartet creates an approachable mixture of folk influence underscored by the frequent presence of a banjo, to sort of big, but tasteful rock sound that fans of Coldplay will probably find to their liking.
Our grade for audio quality is about an A-minus. For a rock band recording, it accomplishes what it set out to do, though the clarity and immediacy of the sound could have been a bit better.
Canada has given us a lot of worthwhile performers, while others have remained relatively unknown in the US. Shred Kelly’s new album Blurry Vision will, I hope, increase the visibility of this worthy rock band.
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