Music is like wardrobe. It’s good to have a selection to choose from, depending on your mood. When I’m feeling in the mood for something rougher and fun, I go for Led Zeppelin. In my more intelligent, thoughtful moods I may dust off R.E.M. In a more exotic mood, I may gravitate toward some Tarkan or Gypsy Kings. My husband has his Johnny Cash moods, which I would never be caught dead listening to. We all fill in the blanks differently.
So what CD should we reach for when we’re feeling like getting away, riding on a long road on a light sunny day, with the windows down and the wind whipping around, the world stretching out clear to the horizon? A good choice to consider for your musical wardrobe in this situation would be “Inside” by Kirby Heyborne.
Even if you’re not in a car on a long carefree road, Kirby’s music will help to get you in the mood to get behind the wheel. A superbly talented independent artist with a strong grassroots following in the Western United States, Kirby’s first solo effort takes off from the gate and, while somewhat uneven in tone, provides many gems for your listening pleasure.
Kirby’s musical voice is his own, with some echoes of others. He begins with “Perfect Together”, a catchy R&B riff with a confident tone and a smooth, relaxed musicality. His next track, the title track of the album, continues the feeling, a rock/folk piece of clarity and drive. However, his next song “Stay With Me” reaches to a new emotional height, with a blend of light country/western and rock that is a seductive howl at the moon, with a carpe diem theme that is irresistible.
His next track, “Simon”, changes tactics slightly, combining fervent religious imagery with a sound that is reminiscent of the Edge during the early formative years of U2. It is poignant in its quiet power, with anguished vocals that Mr. Heyborne pulls off nicely. Indeed, Kirby’s strengths seem to be more in the stillness and intensity of his quiet songs, rather than the raw knock-down power of any rock anthem.
The song, “Patience”, has a pleasant light lilting swing that could be comfortable on a James Taylor album. “Chances”, the next song, has a bold rockabilly sound, with a somewhat chaotic arrangement near the end, but still enjoyable, especially the extra growl that Kirby puts into the vocals. He follows that with “Waiting Here”, a song of open desire that is infused with sunlight, through his plaintive falsetto vocals in the chorus.
Both the songs “Night Begins” and “Won’t Get No Lovin'”, while technically skillful, seem to lack that certain emotional something that would make them really great songs. But before I despair in the possibility that Mr. Heyborne has run out of gas, along comes “this”, a song that grips you with its quiet pain. Kirby’s whispered vocals wrap around you and hold you still, with great subtlety, and rise in a crescendo that is both painful and piercing. The final track on this album, “Fields to Whisper” is intimate and tender in its emotion, stark and plain, very much like Simon and Garfunkel in its tone.
As much as he sings about his confidence and knowing who he is, after listening to his album, one gets the feeling that who he truly is will yet emerge in his future work. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s to come from this very promising artist. You listen to this album, and one hour later, you’re hungry for more. Hopefully, more will be forthcoming in the future.