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23 Jul, Tuesday
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Review: Kevin Young – Loftspace, Belfast – Painted Sun EP Launch

Belfast born, but now residing in Saintfield, singer songwriter Kevin Young hadn’t even picked up a guitar around five years ago and here he is now playing to a captivated audience at Loftspace in Belfast at the launch of his debut Painted Sun EP.

He credits his desire to pick up and learn guitar to his good friend Andrew Farmer, formerly aka Sons of Caliber, who tonight opens the event with his words and gentle musings on life in general, as a one night only Poet in Residence.

He is witty, dry and poignant all rolled into one. In Peace is Built From he asks simply ‘Have you not learned yet, to pour into someones heart’ and The Ploughman tackles some of the intimacies and funny little things in life. A worthy introduction to the evening from one of our cleverest local writers.

Kevin Young enters the fray, to this intimate venue, although it is never normally fashioned for music events. But it works with its simple soft lighting. One thing throughout Kevin Young’s songs is a somewhat prevailing sense of darkness, but always with that little glimmer of light that gives all the hope we need no matter how desperate things may seem at times.

And You Call This Living reflects on a point in his life when he wasn’t who he wanted to be. “Stop doing the things you are not and you will find yourself underneath”, he tells us.

He sings the songs from the pit of his stomach and they carry shades of the great American Songwriters of our time. His songs are interspersed with stories, he loves to talk, and tells us of a conversation with former NI Music Prize winner Ciaran Lavery who advised to get the in-between songs banter right and the rest of it will fall into place.

I Can Hold You Now is a piece of American folk rock that has a heart and soul that has been ripped open to show itself to the world. The music itself is extremely emotive.

Kevin Young has grown his confidence both in himself and in what he does in the past six months since he played as special guest to Malojian in Bangor in 2018. Any fear of putting himself out there has gone, or at least is now very well contained.

His wife Sharon Young joins him on stage for We’re Gonna Live Forever. She has a soft yet powerful voice and is the perfect accompaniment for his gritty vocals.

He talks about his sister, the problems she faces daily, in the song Don’t You Know and whilst it’s obviously hard for him to talk about, he does so because he is sure that to talk about the hard things is the right thing for us all to do. A gentle reminder that you only get one life.

It is deep and yes, as he says, there are no happy songs, but these songs provide the image of how life is for an awful lot of people in the modern world.

Holding On To The Darkness is a stripped bare acoustic song that bathes and swims in the sea of old school Irish country music. One of those songs that you quickly pick up the lyric and sing along quietly under your breath.

He throws in a cover of Radiohead at their best, singing High and Dry and let’s be honest, it perfectly catches the mood of the evening, with the haunting vocals of Sharon Young added for effect.

The second half of the show see Kevin adorning a beautiful white Telecaster style guitar but it is Sharon Young that opens this part of the show with a fantastic cover of a little known Julia Jacklin song Pool Party, about encountering and, ultimately in the end, standing up against an abusive relationship. It is an emotive song and Sharon carries the pain of the song in her vocals.

Painted Sun is the title track of this debut EP and it talks of someone that looks like something, but when you actually experience them they prove themselves not to be what you think. It has a wonderful Pink Floyd-esque vibe running through it.

Cept For A While teaches us to not hold onto the things that are not good for us. There is no doubt the songs are dark, but there are lessons in them for us all, that draw you in, wrap you up and comfort you in a strange kind of way.

He has the perfect voice for the Bruce Springsteen classic I’m On Fire and he asks for and gets some audience participation. There is no way to describe the harmonica infused sound on his music to make you appreciate how it works. It just fits.

Kevin obliges us with one final song on the evening, finishing with the darkness of Hurt by Johnny Cash. A fitting end to be fair.

You cannot be sure where Kevin Young will ever end up in the greater scheme of life or music, but so far he has nailed it in what he has given us. Bless you Sir!

Hit my 40's and discovered I could write a little and now write about my love of all things music. Favourite bands are Counting Crows, Public Service Broadcasting, Aimee Mann, The Four of Us, Dan Wilson, The Charlatans, Frank Turner and a whole load more.