So Cow’s Brian Kelly has been writing and recording music for years and is the epitome of the DIY process, pretty much doing it all himself. While So Cow’s previous album, ‘The Long Con’, was an exception – made with a full band – ‘Lisa Marie Airplane Tour’ sees Kelly return to his roots, even getting dirty with the mixing. The other key aspect is where it was made. For Kelly, home is now being stuck out in the sticks near Spiddal in Galway.
Away from the hustle and bustle of city life and all the pressures that can go with urban living and modern relationships, Kelly has gone on an anxiety detox where being stuck behind a tractor on a narrow pot-holed lane can the height of stress. You can hear his situation has jolted him all across the album. His matter-of-fact singing tone also increases his impact. It’s apparent on Something More, where “every time we meet up/ I clam up, I talk shop” – later on in the same song Kelly sings about a life lived in fear and the incoherent feelings it produces. Decamping to a new environment didn’t entirely rid Kelly of all his fears, maybe just replaced them with a new type of negative thought.
But what is clear is that singing these to the world is a way for Kelly to get these of his chest – a sort of catharsis. He doesn’t miss the life he left behind or yearn for it. At the same time he acknowledges that not everything is rosy in his current environment. For instance, he raises two fingers to paying extortionate prices for a coke and whiskey on Asleep On a Bus.
The charm is provided by the rough and ready nature of the music which is full of character. This is music best served without excessive bells and whistles. Little ohh’s and ah’s are carefully sprinkled around, making them serious earworms. The Irish county and Thin Lizzy name-checking No Trade and the Buzzcocks –esque Wait It Out both use these embellishments to great effect.
Short, sharp and never overstaying their welcome, the songs on ‘Lisa Marie Airplane Tour’ may not get the clamour of more established bands, but this is a minor masterpiece. These are moments that involuntary make you want to close your eyes and unselfconsciously shake your head. It doesn’t matter where, or who it’s in front of…this is music that people should know about.