Kieran Kane – A simple path
Dogs on the floor, mandolin on the couch, paintings on the wall. Kieran Kane made the paintings, plays the mandolin, pets the dogs. Kane is sick today, dressed in staying-home clothes. He hasn’t been painting, though he’s likely been noodling around on the mandolin a bit.
That’s the same mandolin — a modest, inexpensive Kentucky brand model he bought off a store rack — that has been heard all over the world. He carries it with him when he performs, and its wood has resonated in places Kane has never been. That’s the mandolin that used to be on the radio.
This morning, Kane sought to cancel a career-spanning conversation. But the afternoon brought a second wind, and, anyway, he knows the talk should veer at times toward Shadows On The Ground, his new album, a work of which he is understandably pleased and proud.
Shadows is like other Kieran Kane records, only more so. Or less so. Maybe more so because it’s less so. Known for more than two decades as a writer and player who uplifts common words and simple melodies, Shadows is his sparest and simplest effort to date. The instrumentation is acoustic; the lyrics hold great meaning but little sophistication. Two of the songs have only one chord. The arrangements and structures aren’t skin and bones, they are bones.
“He’s been doing this for a long time: paring it down and down to just the cleanest, most necessary, most fundamental parts of a song,” says Kane’s longtime friend and collaborator Kevin Welch. “I watch him as he’s working, getting closer to his ideal songs and his ideal record. I see him heading purposefully toward a goal he has. Was it Matisse or Cezanne who ended up making little cardboard cutouts, who just got things simpler and simpler? Kieran reminds me of that.”++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
This is an excerpt of the full article which appeared in The Best of No Depression: Writing About American Music, which features 25 of the finest articles from the magazines back issues, and was published in 2005 by University of Texas Press to help celebrate the magazines 10th anniversary. Due to our agreement with UT Press we are unable to include this article in our online archive.
The Best of No Depression is the only place you can find these articles other than our back issues. Visit the No Depression store to buy your copy for only $10.
The 300-page volume includes co-editor Grant Aldens award-winning 2001 feature on Billy Joe Shaver, co-editor Peter Blackstocks 1998 Artist of the Decade piece on Alejandro Escovedo, senior editor Bill Friskics-Warrens 2002 cover story on Johnny Cash, contributing editor Paul Cantins deep exploration of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era Wilco; and many other high points from our print heyday.
Table of contents for The Best of No Depression:
Preface, by Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock
Los Lobos, by Geoffrey Himes
Alejandro Escovedo, by Peter Blackstock
Jon Dee Graham, by Peter Blackstock
Billy Joe Shaver, by Grant Alden
Ray Wylie Hubbard, by John T. Davis
Flatlanders, by Don McLeese
Ray Price, by David Cantwell
Johnny Gimble, by Bill C. Malone
Johnny Cash, by Bill Friskics-Warren
Rosanne Cash, by Lloyd Sachs
Lucinda Williams, by Silas House
Buddy & Julie Miller, by Bill Friskics-Warren
Kasey Chambers, by Geoffrey Himes
Loretta Lynn, by Barry Mazor
Patty Loveless, by Bill Friskics-Warren
Kieran Kane, by Peter Cooper
Paul Burch, by Jim Ridley
Hazel Dickens, by Bill Friskics-Warren
Gillian Welch, by Grant Alden
Ryan Adams, by David Menconi
Jay Farrar, by Peter Blackstock
Jayhawks, by Erik Flannigan
Wilco, by Paul Cantin
Drive-By Truckers, by Grant Alden
Iron & Wine, by William Bowers