Strangely, I first heard Brian Byrne’s solo single debut, “Far From Good”, on a local lite-rock radio station that I usually try to avoid. The song caught my ear for its upbeat, country-rock sound, with bouncy violin and piano on top. A neat mix. When they said it was by Brian Byrne, I stopped myself. Couldn’t be the I Mother Earth singer getting played on a lite-rock station, could it? But it was. I promptly ordered the CD from the Record Store at which I formerly worked. The disc arrived in a few days, great condition, except for the promo-cut jewel case. They normally should have replaced the case before the CD shipped, but somebody missed it. I didn’t want to ask for a new case, because I just left the place six months before and I didn’t want to become “that” customer!
But enough about me, what about Byrne? Here he worked with near-legendary Canadian producer Tim Thorney, as well as former Killer Dwarfs guitarist Gerry Finn. (Byrne and Finn both hail from Newfoundland.) I Mother Earth were deactivated, and Byrne honed Tuesdays, Thursdays and if it Rains… into a pleasing acoustic rock album, very “singer-songwriter” in sound.
“Far From Good” is the highlight, being the most immediate and lively. The album is diverse. The opening track “Days Go On” has elements of country, funk, classic rock and soul. The juicy organ parts really suck you in. “Jen’s Song” is one of many ballads, this one reminding me of 80’s Phil Collins for some reason. Byrne gets to let his voice speak more than he does in the louder I Mother Earth. Then there’s a big chorus on “Sweet Love”, a better light country rock tune than Bon Jovi’s ever written. This is like country-Jovi, but with integrity and feelings, and not a lot of flash. “Nova Dashboard” is a lovely, bluesy country ballad along the lines of Blue Rodeo’s dusky favourites. The guitars (by Thorney) get right under your skin.
I could go on and on, but all the songs have a quiet, smouldering power to them. The light and shade of the album sounds quintessentially Canadian to me, and the calibre of the musicianship is above reproach. Expect an album of diverse music crossing several genres, but do not expect I Mother Earth. Byrne almost went as far in another direction as you could imagine. And that is really cool, because he does it so well.