Joe Keelan is releasing his first proper solo EP Call off the Gods on Saturday 15th Octoberat the View Two Gallery, Liverpool.
Joe used to be part of the band The Random Family, one of the central folk and roots bands on the Liverpool scene. They regularly hosted the popular Family Folk Up nights at St Brides which is were I first came across them. Joe was listed as playing guitars, banjo, mandolin, tenor guitar and vocals, back in 2012 when the band last played together. Joe plays all these on the EP along with John Elliott (of band The Little Unsaid) playing piano and percussion and it also features the double bass wizardry of Lukas Drinkwater. Paul Rileywho was in the Random Family with Joe will be playing bass with for the EP launch.
Joe has been living for several years in the Derbyshire Dales and he says a lot of the inspiration comes from the green hills and wondrous landscape. Besides the solo EP Joe isalso part of a band called The Rough Island Band a group centred around St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly, they write songs that try to encapsulate the the island, it’s stories, the people and incredible power of the landscape there. “It is an incredible place which has a huge impact on my writing” Joe says. It seems he has been distilling the essence of what drives him as a songwriter.
His guitar playing and finger picking work to great effect throughout the EP, and his voice and the harmonies of John Elliot are clear and clean. I love the layering with the double bass leading on the title track as the instruments are added and then Joe’s voice rings out and the lyrics start to make you think and ponder about what we have and what we all have lost. Talking of things lost Let the Waters Rise opens with the lines ‘cradle the life cherish it while it lasts, then talk of rising waters they wont carry us away whether or not it references the widespread floods or the rising trouble of life is left to the listener. The third track Burning Bright starts with Joe’s finger picking makes you wish for an instrumental track or three but that would make this an album instead of an EP. I really like the lyrics on this EP but this is the one I found myself singing along to only after the second or third listen.Fingerprints is the last track and not least and ends with a crescendo of sound and Joe’s guitar and voice.
Call Offthe Gods is a five track EP recorded at various locations in London with the help of Waratah Records, and produced by John Elliott (The Little Unsaid). According to Joe’s facebook page, “The EP is rich in references to landscapes and journeys, both internal and external, and fuses exquisitely layered sounds and deceptively simple language in its exploration of age, loss, fear, joy, and what it means to be human.” I wouldn’t argue with that!