Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Songs of Zion

Kirby Heyborne – Inside

If I were to title this review, it would be a line from one of the songs: “(His) silent shadows confuse my view…”

The songs are wonderfully performed, pristinely recorded, and precisely arranged. The melodies are intricate and fascinating. The lyrics are thoughtful and profound.

At least, I assume they are.

They certainly sounded profound.

Except for the fact that I couldn’t make much tangible sense out of most of them.

There is a trend among current singer/songwriters, both in the big world and in the LDS market, which seems to think that if the audience “gets it”, then the song wasn’t deep enough. Obscurity seems to be their holy grail. Unfortunately, they seem to be finding that grail rather a lot. After listening to “Inside”, I’m left with the sense that I just had a glimpse deep into Kirby’s bared soul, and I couldn’t make heads or tails out of any of it. It’s like he wants to share his most inner secrets with me, but he also still wants to keep his distance.

“Patience”, for example, is a great tune, but one that I don’t understand. There were some cool fishing metaphors in there, but I’m not sure the interpretation thereof. “this”, “Chances”, and “Inside” were all like that, too. It’s like, if I were to just hear the CD, and not really listen closely, I’d be carried along on a wonderful, sonically intriguing, and relaxing ride. But as soon as I start paying attention, I get lost.

There are a few songs that I managed to “get”. “Simon” is about the apostle Peter. It’s a tasty tune, with acoustic guitar and strings. Very Peter Breinholt.

“Won’t Get No Lovin’” is a breakup song about a guy that loved a girl that didn’t care about him, or anyone else, really. She flits from one to the other, and he gives up waiting for her to settle down. This one is by far my favorite of the whole CD, with this killer retro jazz feel. Almost big band without the band. I love it when he screams out the vocals at the end.

There was one song that I have to say I had a very hard time with. “Stay With Me” is a basic love song, but it left me wondering. The song, especially the chorus, could be interpreted to imply immorality. “Stay with me, you know you want to / Stay with me, don’t change your mind / Stay with me, don’t keep me waiting / Stay with me tonight…” I searched and searched for alternative interpretations, but nothing but the wrong one fit. I also don’t like to take things out of context, but honestly, there was nothing in the verses to clarify the meaning. Now clearly, that lyric isn’t as foul or innuendo-laced as, say, an Aerosmith or a Madonna song, but for someone that’s approaching the LDS market, it made me wonder what the intent of the song really was. (--Note from Mark, added 06/07/05: I got a really nice email from Kirby explaining the way the song was written and its intent. Go to this post to read about it)

Now, don’t get me started on his voice. I could go on about that for pages. If I could sing half this well, I’d be set. I’d be hard pressed to find a voice this expressive in all of LDS pop. All the bits of vocal styling are at his simple and easy command: Soft, gentle, gritty, edgy, loving, angry, it’s all there. And he can flip from one to the other in a heartbeat. I’m in awe. It’s THAT good.

I really like the guitar playing, and while it fits pretty nicely into that Acoustic-y, Folk-y singer/songwriter thang that Peter Breinholt, Cherie Call, and Shane Jackman have, he’s also fresh and different from them in the arrangements and the execution.

Three and a half stars. I’d love to give it more, but I just have no idea what he’s talking about.

Mark Hansen


  1. Mark, "The Emperor has no clothes!" A (monetarily)successfull artist once explained his "talent" to me: "Add a few zeros to your price, tell collectors that your art has been sold in (hoity toity city), and then convince buyers you will not take a penny less! Convince them you are worth the price. Talent has nothing to do with it."

    This album has a great voice, but he's trying to sell you something "deep" because business has convinced this artist that is what he needs to do to be successful. It's a shame really, because after a while someone -like you- who knows, will pass this 6' red square of canvas and say, "There's nothing there that is worth the $25,000."

    The bigger shame is that eventually real art loses it's worth in exchange for "pop" art.

    Great post. Thanks.

  2. I had no idea he was musically included. Yeah, I'd heard of this Sons of Provo movie but 95% of anything associated with Halestorm entertainment makes me cringe. So Kirby's branched out. Interesting...

  3. I actually really, really liked Son's of Provo. As an LDS musician, I found it both stinging and hilarious at the same time!


  4. I Love Kirbys CD Inside- I thought everything was great about it. I think his voice is amazing. I think he is truly talanetd... The song stay with me, is about his wife. and I think that it is a nice tribute to her. I don't think kirby needs to go around telling everyone the meanings to his songs, Its music...

  5. I agree with all you say. He IS talented, as well as being a very nice guy.

    I like to understand the music I listen to. Other people just like to listen. Both approaches are fine.




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