By Bap Kennedy
With friends like fellow Belfast born Van Morrison and over thirty years in the music industry, singer-songwriter Bap Kennedy has a sound musical pedigree, even if his name doesn't sound familiar.
'Howl On' is Bap Kennedy's fifth studio album and the first to be recorded in his native Northern Ireland, although the cool country feel is more Nashville than County Down. Opening track 'America' tells you everything you need to know.
The most famous song on the album is the superb cover of 'Hey Joe.' More upbeat than the Jimi Hendrix version, it's breathed new life into a song that's been around for nearly fifty years. Although it's a great track, it's not the best song on the album, that title goes to 'Cold War Country Blues.' The lyrics to the song are brilliant: "you better get it right John Kennedy \ 'Cause if you get it wrong they'll drop the atom bomb." The tempo is perfect. It's only using a standard country structure but it's just so enjoyable. Throw in 'One Of Those Days' and you end up with a good time country soundtrack.
The album also shows a softer side to Bap Kennedy's song writing, but with mixed effect. 'Right Stuff' and 'Ballad Of Neil Armstrong' are nice and relaxing. 'Irish Moon' is a tribute to life growing up in Northern Ireland, while the title track pulls on the old heart strings. Then there are a couple that don't quite catch one's attention; 'The Blue One' and 'The Heart Of Universal Love.'
On the whole the album has a great folk / country feel to it. It's very laid back and extremely enjoyable.