Kevin Delaney has been a singer-songwriter within the New York music scene for many years, with releases Himalayan Moon and Pause for Effect already under his belt. High Springs sees him join forces with Rich Shemaria, jazz pianist and composer-in-residence at New York University. Shemaria’s beautiful arrangements complement the deeply personal folk/rock songs of Delaney in an album that is embellished by some top New York musicians. The result is a rich collection of songs; recorded between two Manhattan apartments, with drums contributed by Josh Bailey and mixing completed by Tom Swift of Swift Kick Productions.
Kicking off the proceedings is the infectious rocker: You Know. Its upbeat groove brings a suitable intensity to the inward-looking lyric penned by Delaney. The search for meaning is the motivation behind the song, and it offers up plenty of bittersweet wisdom… “Just when you think you’re on solid ground / You’re up in the air on a wing and a prayer”. A soulful organ solo kicks in at the halfway point which is accentuated by Bailey’s brilliant drum rolls.
River Road deals with the themes of aging and growth; using water as a metaphor for the immutable nature of time. Shemaria plays a beautiful piano part throughout, and the chorus displays some lovely vocal harmonies. There’s a delightful grit to Delaney’s voice, rather reminiscent of Knopfler, or the late Tom Petty. The bridge sees Delaney tell the song’s protagonist to forget her past and sail on to new horizons, after which we are treated to a delightful instrumental section where he plays harmonica and showcases some fine acoustic guitar chops.
The title track: High Springs, is nothing short of perfection. Beginning with an orchestral passage, in which the sounds of trumpet, bassoon, flute, and strings delight, it gradually resolves into an acoustic guitar progression and a strong backbeat emerges. The song follows the travels of two forlorn, heat-stricken lovers. Their only hope is to keep on going down the road; that salvation awaits at High Springs where they will watch the daybreak together. The song slows down during the third verse before a fully-fledged jazz breakdown ensues. A series of bold harmonic changes leads us into a sophisticated Steely Dan-like groove, with Rhodes piano and an inspired, Jim O’Connor flugelhorn solo.
Long Walk to a Slow Train opens up with some lounge-style jazz piano before a playful double-bass riff arrives and kicks us into blues-rock. Bright electric guitar chords ring out during the chorus and the lyrics take on a sentimental tone; inviting the listener to take a moment to breathe and reflect. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a trip through the countryside, staring out the window with plenty of time to entertain your thoughts. Delaney plays a brilliant guitar solo on this one too.
Your Fragile Heart is a sweet acoustic number that sees a return to the orchestral stylings of the title track. A moving string arrangement weaves between the soft arpeggios of Delaney’s guitar, with a tender vocal delivery promising protection to a loved one. Kaoru Hinata delivers a tremendous flute solo over a backdrop of strings, harp, and flugelhorn before the end of the song.
This album is a thoroughly gorgeous listen. Shemaria’s arranging shines throughout; providing these songs with an extraordinary level of depth. And despite traversing a wide variety of genres, there is cohesion from start to finish – courtesy of Delaney’s sincere vocals, and earnest lyricism. High Springs, surely, is the work of some of New York’s finest musicians. Don’t sleep on this one!
BELOW: Check out our full artist interview with Kevin Delaney, listen to High Springs, connect with their website and social media platforms, and find their booking & contact information. Please support Kevin Delaney & Rich Shemaria by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
Check out our interview with KEVIN DELANEY:
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Listen to HIGH SPRINGS by KEVIN DELANEY & RICH SHEMARIA:
Booking & contact information for KEVIN DELANEY:
Contact: Kevin Delaney