Steve Kilbey & Martin Kennedy – Songs from the Real World Vol 2 (Commissioned Songs)

Steve Kilbey & Martin Kennedy - Songs from the Real World Vol 2 (Commissioned Songs)

Steve Kilbey & Martin Kennedy – Songs from the Real World Vol 2 (Commissioned Songs)

Steve Kilbey (of The Church) and Martin Kennedy (of All India Radio) have teamed up again, producing a 2nd batch of warm and enjoyable commissioned songs, each crafted to the thematic specifications of the client.  The lyrics and tone of most of the tunes emphasize the joy and fulfillment of familial bonds and human connection.  Relationships of the furry kind are also represented by the cute and playful “Yuna and Mugi”, which is about a couple of ‘cool’ cats.  Martin’s gently strummed acoustic guitar and ambience of synths and Steve’s forthright and heartfelt vocals form the basis of most songs.

 There are, however, some surprisingly frank, but universal admissions among the general uplift.  The protagonist of “Amber” reveals personal struggles as (s)he bemoans the fact that “…it ain’t easy to care about someone like you.”, yet (s)he cares about Amber nonetheless.  The sweet, upbeat sonics of “Song For Matt” belies the tough, but tender lyrics about overcoming life’s challenges.  On “A Song for Michael” the narrator admits that sometimes plans for the future don’t always work out, “…but we haven’t given up hope.”

 The most intriguing songs in lyrical content and sound bookend and divide the album in two.  Martin steeps the story-telling opener “Tristan and Isolde” in a misty, Medieval atmosphere that stirs up the ghost of The Church.  A diffusion of poignant flute notes gives way to a picked guitar refrain, steady drum march, and Steve’s yearning, sing-talking vocals.  The ambient, mid-album “Ghost (Vocal Version)” drifts by with Martin laying out enveloping attenuated synths and Steve singing in a vulnerable tone about being “frozen in time”.

 Martin and Steve have a blast on the fun, noir (Usually those terms don’t descriptively coexist, but this is an exception…) album-ender “Monkey Man”.  It’s chock full of complex, thought-provoking lyrics, a foreboding, stalking bassline contrasted with light bird twitter, and Steve taking great delight in his vocal delivery about a ‘monkey man’ with the “…brain of a monkey / body of a man…”, wondering if its creation was “…accident or plan…”

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