Junior Brother: Pull the Right Rope review – The real paradoxical deal

Thu, May 23, 2019, 05:00

   
  

Album:
Pull the Right Rope

Artist:
Junior Brother

Label:
Strange Brew

Genre:
Singer / Songwriter

Dublin-based, Kerry-born Ronan Kealy has been swatting off descriptions of his folk music (“off kilter”, “odd”, “quirky”, et al) for the past 18 months or so. You can read between the lines: be prepared for something unusual.

Kealy is different, for sure, and if you’re looking for relatively handy locus points they could be something along the lines of Nick Drake channelling Captain Beefheart, or John Martyn referencing Kevin Coyne one minute and Ivor Cutler the next. In other words, while the baseline is acutely wrought, what appears to be wilful atonality and downright skittishness is aimed at putting your head into a spin cycle.

All of this is encapsulated across the album but none more perfectly condensed than in Purple Circle, nine minutes of singularity that will sort out the believers from the bemused. While the latter might walk away from Junior Brother’s music in search of smoothness, the former will embrace it.

We are with that bunch, frankly, because the tales told here are full of wide-eyed wonders and keen observations. Between the clatter of one and clarity of the other, Junior Brother’s songs are the real deal.