ANOTHER SKY - SWEDEn
hurricane - beach sloth
ANother sky - the daily ripple - dan MacIntosh
Kelly’s Lot is a band fronted by Kelly Zirbes. The group has already released 15 CDs. While Zirbes is described as a “folk singer/songwriter with a heart for the blues,” the album Another Sky contains little that might be called ‘the blues.’ Instead, this 12-track album is very much a folk effort.
Sometimes, when the descriptor ‘folk’ is used, many may immediately tune out. They likely assume the music is a bunch of strummy acoustic guitar tunes. Kelly’s Lot, however, might prevent such a one from tuning out so soon because Another Sky incorporates plenty of sonic variety. For example, “Foolish Try,” which was co-written with multi-instrumentalist Doug Pettibone, prominently features Phil Parlapiano’s Tex-Mex accordion. The song even includes a few lyrics in Spanish, on a tune with distinct roots in south of the border sounds. Then there’s “The Irish Luck,” which – as you may have guessed – is distinctly Celtic, and with its penny whistle, might pass for a St. Patrick’s Day drinking song.
Accordion is sure put to good use on this album. One titled “Simple Man,” which features a gypsy folk vibe running through it, has accordion up front in the song’s mix. Lyrically, the track is more than a little unusual. “He just loves me with a passion/He’s a simple man,” Zirbes tells us. Most the time, songwriters pen lyrics that attempt to comprehend complicated individuals. Not so here, though, as Zirbes sounds be taken aback by one who is, at the end of the day, relatively simple. This ode to a simple guy includes a clarinet solo. (When was the last time you heard an honest to goodness clarinet solo on a pop song?). “Lock Me Up,” the song that follows next, has a ‘50s rock arrangement, as well as another unusual lyric. This girl is begging to be imprisoned, so her field-playing guy can, well, play that field. “You put me in a prison gown/And run all over town.” This lyrical tactic also flies in the face of typical pop music conventions. Often, dating all the way back to James Brown’s heyday, pop singers have been imprisoned by love, rather than locked away from it.
While Zirbes isn’t afraid to experiment with various musical styles, she is also able to sing serious political songs. Although it’s not clear who or what her target is for “Freedom,” she’s clearly bothered by something or someone limiting another’s freedom. “No one knows that it’s real,” she tells us, “Only those who lost their freedom.” Zirbes sings its heartfelt words with sincere passion. One song that sounds a tad out of place, however, is “Christmas Is Calling.” Written solely by Zirbes, its lyric is – at its root – about separation between two lovers – only set during wintertime. “And I need you more when Christmas comes to call,” Zirbes confesses over a twangy groove.
If you’re one of those people that practice extreme prejudice against all folk and folk-related music, Kelly’s Lot might just jolt you out of your preconceived ideas. Yes, Kelly Zirbes has a folksinger living deep down in her soul. However, she knows how to dress up that soul in plenty of unexpected garb. This woman who sings the praises of a simple man, is by no means simple herself. - Dan MacIntosh
hurricane - SHeWolf.eu
A German review translated - "The American Americana / Folk-Rock band Kelly’s Lot has been in business for 26 years and is now presenting the clip for their song Hurricane. Founded in 1994 by singer Kelly Zirbes, the band released their new, 10th long player in August of this year, a successful, bluesy video release for that very Hurricane, which comes up with a melancholy mood. Coming from sunny California, Kelly's Lot's permanent staff includes front woman Kelly Zirbes as well as the musicians Perry Robertson, Rob Zucca, Matt McFadden, Bill Johnston, Dave Welch, Bobby Orgel, Sebastian Sheehan, Art Mendoza, Frank Hinojosa, Michael Mason and last but not least Aviva Maloney. Musically, the twelve-person team is excellently positioned and not only on the instrumental level Kelly's Lot convince with a well-rehearsed, demonstrated sovereignty, but especially in the transport of the emotions of the song, as well as the composition, yes the musical performance, Hurricane is a grandiose Song that moves between Americana and Folk Rock and does not seem old-fashioned, but sounds fresh and modern from the speakers. Thematically it is about the despair of an individual whose life is falling apart and who has lost the ground under his feet. This person is desperately asking for help and is describing this situation as a hurricane. In addition to a fantastic and demanding performance by the musicians involved in Kelly’s Lot, who work together harmoniously and passionately, there is of course the singing of singer Kelly Zirbes with her smoky and yet sensitive character. Here the front woman is the absolute center, who not only has something vocal, but also conveys the emotions of the song and the passion in a believable and perfect way. Kelly Zirbes convinces from the first to the last bars with her penetrating voice, which is characterized by harmony and which shares this harmony with the experienced teamwork of the musicians."- Philipp Gottfried
another sky - michael doherty
"“Foolish Try” has a delicious Latin flavor, a somewhat laid-back vibe, and features some excellent work on guitar. Kelly sings some of the lyrics in Spanish. Phil Parlapiano adds some sweet touches on accordion. I also love the line “Let’s give it the ol’ foolish try,” a play on “the old college try.” And the song ends with these wonderful lines: “Let me lie beside you ‘til the end/And hold me like you did yesterday.” What a beautiful song. It was written by Kelly Zirbes and Doug Pettibone." - Click on link for full review
another sky - jim hynes
Another Sky, Kelly Lot’s 15th CD, marks another progression on the roots music continuum for The band is now celebrating their 26th year since founder Kelly Zirbes, a folk singer/songwriter, with a heart for the blues fronted the band for their first gig at the Roxy in Hollywood. In a larger sense, this recording represents a return to Kelly Z’s folk roots. Kelly Z met guitar player and sound man, Perry Robertson in 1996, who soon after produced Kelly’s Lot - Live at the Troubadour. Within a year he joined the band, started writing songs with Kelly Z and added the southern rock and Texas influences that have shaped their sound. Early on they toured as duo but in the last decade they have played as a 5-8 piece blues band. Robertson, who shares songwriting and band leader credits with Kelly Z, has recorded and produced most of the band’s music including the 2019 release Can't Take My Soul which featured Americana, blues, folk, and roots/rock creations. For Another Sky Kelly Z and Perry worked with Doug Pettibone to record a new selection of songs that stressed genres like contemporary folk, roots rock and alt country. Six of the tracks on the album were inspired by words from fans on Facebook. Kelly Z challenged them to look in their hearts and share just one word. She then challenged herself to choose a word and write a song in two hours.
The core unit for Another Sky is a five piece with Kelly on vocals, Robertson on acoustic guitar, Pettibone on electric guitars, pedal steel, mandolin, and supporting vocals; Art Mendoza on drums, and Matt McFadden on electric bass. Eleven other collaborators contribute to select tracks. Pettibone sings “Tangled” as a duet with Kelly and Rick Monroe takes a vocal turn on “Sleep On It.” The album opens with the folk song “Butterfly” ushering warm farewells to those we love as guitars and mandolin caress Kelly’s vocal which is augmented by the background harmonies. “I Will Find You Again” gives a good sampling of Pettibone’s melodic, stirring electric guitar work, (the same kind that served Lucinda Williams well for years). There’s an Irish feel to it with Aubrey Richmond’s fiddle which weaves in and out of a rich backdrop of B3 and pedal steel.
The interesting musical flourished continue as accordion and mandolin imbue “Foolish Try” while Richmond’s mournful fiddle colors the solemn “Freedom,’ one that really captures Kelly’s vocal nuances. The wailing aspects of Kelly’s vocals appear in angry, bluesy “Took It Back,” a standout. The accordion returns for “Tangled” as Kelly takes to the whistle and trades lines with Pettibone. “Irish Luck” sounds just as one would expect a reel and jig dance number complete with fiddle and accordion. “Simple Man” is another strong Kelly vocal and has Bill Johnston on a clarinet solo providing yet another new sonic touch, as Phil Parlapiano’s accordion is heard for the third song consecutively. “Lock Me Up,” like “Took It Back” was written by Kelly, Robertson, and Pettibone and has a similar theme but heads more in a country direction.
“Christmas Is Calling” is a potent song of yearning and it reminds us how much most of us miss family and close ones during these stay-at-home times. “Sleep On It Tonight” is a folk song written by Kelly and Pettibone, like some of the others echoing British Isles folk, rather unusual for this California-based outfit. Monroe’s vocal proves the perfect complement to Kelly’s against Pettibone’s weeping pedal steel, making this another standout. The closer “Hurricane” opens with Frank “Cisco” Hinojosa’s harmonica and has a ‘big sound’ replete with B3, multiple guitars and a rave-up vibe befitting its title, as Kelly wails away.
Considering that this is a band that built its reputation primarily as a blues band, they demonstrate a facility for many roots forms with impressive vocals from Kelly, some outstanding songs, and stellar musicianship all around. - Jim Hynes
another sky - hvy.com - will phoenix
“Sleep On It Tonight” features the vocals of Rick Monroe. This endearing and no doubt enduring song was co-written with Pettibone. It’s one of the best songs on the CD and yet another example of how the two work together to produce a song-story that has its identity but still fits in with the other material on the album." Click for song by Song review
Hurricane - Dave Franklin
Hurricane walks a smart and fairly fine line between the traditional traits of more rootsy styles and the easy accessibility of a pop mindset. Not pop in sound, pop in that the song has an immediacy, an accessibility, an addictiveness which isn’t often found in the more discerning genres of folk, blues and Americana which the band looks to for its core sounds.
ANOTHER SKY - Sweden -Monomagasin
TRANSLATION - Do not let the new age cover mislead you: Experienced Kelly Zirbes has a nice country-accented voice that has a certain dressy toughness. She also makes good songs that she is careful not to over-arrange or over-produce. Rather too little than too much, but usually just as much as is needed for the greatest effect. Sometimes her songs sound like a cross between Tarnation and Walkabouts, like the tremolo guitar-adorned "Took It Back" and the absolutely superb "Simple Man" - both highlights of "Another Sky". The objections I concern are two completely different songs, "Tangled" which sounds like Sinatra-Dylan could have done with the help of a tired Tom Waits, and "The Irish Luck" which is far too peaceable for the context. But two bottom buttons on a record with twelve songs is not much to complain about. Especially not when the other songs are either good or really good. MONOMAGASIN
Can't Take My Soul - Big City blues magazine
Here’s another really good band that deserves to emerge from under the radar. Songstress Kelly Zirbes and her guitarist partner Perry Robertson have released over a dozen albums from their base in Los Angeles, as well as racking up an extensive festival and touring resume (including annual visits to France, where they have a loyal following). This year marks the silver anniversary of the band’s formation, and their new album is designed to show the band’s strengths as it touches on rock, folk, soul, and regional music as well as blues.
In addition to Kelly and Perry, the ensemble is comprised of drummer Mike Sauer and bassist Matt McFadden, whose skills emerge immediately on the opening track, “All I Ever Want Is the Blues.” The number - composed, like the entire twelve songs, by Zirbes and Robertson - name-checks a host of blues influences, from Robert Johnson to Bonnie Raitt, as it rocks its brief way to its end. In the process, it reveals Kelly’s powerful alto pipes, and also her ability to do both grit and smooth croon.
“All Hope Ain’t Lost,” track two, introduces organist Bobby Orgel into the mix and allows Kelly to wax sultry before soaring into the upper registers; Robertson adds a short but nifty solo. His guitar then introduces “Alyssa,” who was “one step ahead of the blues.” (The handsome liner notes provide full song lyrics.) A zesty and unexpected twist follows with “Woe Is Me”: its slow intro quickly morphs into a mid-tempo Cajun mode, with Eddie Baytos contributing stylish accordion and washboard.
You get the idea: an amalgam of variety, versatility, and vivacity. Among the remaining tracks, “Safe and Warm” is a sweet love ballad with pleasant acoustic guitar and Kelly singing at her warmest. “Rise Up,” in contrast, is an upbeat bilingual cut, presenting a stark contrast between Kelly’s smooth vocal and the ultra-raspy Jean-Francois Thomas vocalizing in French. The juxtaposition seems unlikely to work…but it does. Later, Kelly herself handles the French on the bilingual closer, “Mon Ami.” Also notable is “Little Bit of This,” a simple and pretty duet of Robertson on acoustic guitar and Kelly.
Along the way, we are treated to the talents of several other guests, including Frank Hinojosa wailing harmonica on “Broke Myself” and a quartet of backing singers who sound delightful in adorning several songs. The result is a set with catchy tunes and creative lyrics by a group of long-time compatriots, fronted by Kelly Z’s alternately supple, suave, and searing vocals.—Steve Daniels