As part of the run-up to the release of his debut album in Summer 2019, composer and performer Kris Kelly shares with us an eyebrow-raising interpretation of his latest single Birthplace.
The singer-songwriter recently performed a spellbinding version of the track complete with sitar, bansuri and table – needless to say, this twist on an already charming composition adds another layer of intrigue to the piece. Folksy harmonies, double tracked vocals and swift melodic movement galore – the string section adds an extra layer to the texture. It develops totally organically – there’s no rush to get to the chorus, resulting in a certain fluidity to the track which is difficult to define.
Mixed by Noah Georgeson and mastered by Philip Shaw Bova, there’s an interesting tone to the vocal line – almost Yusuf Islam-esque in part. Taken from his debut album Runaway, it’s a nostalgia-tinged ode to one’s youth, addressing the concepts of rebirth and what it means to be human. The melody is sweet and slightly mournful, with Kelly taking advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate his impressive vocal ability here – although at no point is it excessive or unnecessary. The composer knows just how much to give, before pulling back and allowing the instruments room to breathe.
The fluid nature of Kelly’s performance style ties in perfectly with the use of traditional Indian instrumentation; whilst already a song rich in texture, the inclusion of these tools makes the music even more captivating to the listener. It feels a little more muted, an ever-so-slightly mellow and toned down version on the original – but still maintains the sunny tone and pensive feel of its predecessor. There’s a certain energy to Kelly’s music which is quite difficult to pin down – it’s somehow melancholy and joyful at the same time.
His Kerouacian vocal line results in a rather hypnotic performance – whilst complemented perfectly by the more minimal instrumental accompaniment in the original recording, it reveals another dimension to his songwriting ability in this version (plus, at well over seven minutes long, it’s something of a testament to Kelly’s perseverance).
Photo credit: Josh Wool