Debra Lyn – Blue Sun Rises – Palette Records
At first, I thought this was just another Celtic type traditional excursion of a singer-songwriter attempting to add her bluegrass-folk tuneful songs to a canon of traditional ones that have lasted for hundreds of years. I was wrong.
This has a thread of originality, creativeness, and the attractive Debra Lyn’s exquisite vocal tone.
Blue Sun Rises, her 3rd LP released May 31st is not just another Celtic wannabe album. Her tunes have weight & Debra, who possesses that English/Scottish/Irish air also has – American blues & jazz in her voice. She’s in command of a rich tone that she’s created & it’s something magical out of the ancient.
Debra, at times, sings with an edginess. Similar to early Shane McGowan (The Pogues). By track 3 Debra has me rocking in my chair during the British folk song “Billy Taylor.”
In a more classic traditional fashion “The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond,” — but once the band kicks in & Debra’s durable vocal paints broad strokes all over this ancient melodic ballad it’s renewed, fresh. I hope one day she will cover “The Keeper,” & “Valerie,” both which are wonderfully melodic old-world songs.
Aside from vocals, Debra plays mountain dulcimer, claw hammer banjo & electric bass. Award-winning producer Jeff Silverman plays a custom-made Martin acoustic baritone guitar tuned lower than standard guitars & bass guitar. Additional musicians – there are many, cited on Debra’s website under lyrics – each song has multiple musicians listed individually.
Falling away from the Celtic & injecting her vocals with a grittier Americanistic tone, Debra certainly asserts herself with “Workin’ for the Money.” This is dynamic — bright percussion, crisp acoustics, excellent arrangement & reminiscent of the energy often displayed by the likes of Reba McIntyre & Dolly Parton. Irish step dancer Lily Rose Fisher performs percussive dance steps on 2 tracks including this. This is definitely a keeper.
“Love Will Never Die,” has just enough vocal-emote to be sincere & without showboating. The track rallies wonderful fiddles — not a fast song but is an exciting one.
Debra Lyn obviously wields perfectionism & creativity when she covers a song. She isn’t going to just go the traditional easy route of expectation. She infuses it, adds personality, & modernizes the song with her own trimmings. “Wayfaring Stranger,” features all the standard instruments you’d expect plus Deb’s banjo. It’s as if, you’re hearing the old song for the first time. And then wait…wait for the finale when the band & pennywhistle take off like a jam band stirring up the energy akin to The Pogues & Dropkick Murphy’s. Irish step dancer Lily Rose Fisher returns to add her percussive treatment.
“Devil with the Blue Eyes,” has stimulating guitar sounds & finger snaps with brushes on the snare. This is more stimulating & jazzier. Debra’s perfect with her annunciation. Then, back to the Celtic – “Preacher Man,” — bagpipes, acoustic guitar & deeper vocal treatment. All the necessary shouted “Hey’s,” that dramatizes the song like Slade’s (“Walking on Water, Running on Alcohol”) & the Anti-Nowhere League’s (“Queen & Country”).
It’s amazing how Debra changes lanes on this musical highway so easily & maintains speed without veering into a wild note gully. Hard melodic lines, martial drums, sewn together by bagpipes. Hot stuff. “The Parting Glass,” is probably the most beautiful on the LP – as traditional sounding as the performance is it’s not old, it’s today. Debra Lyn makes it modern & impressive.
Check it out, here: https://debralyn.com/blue-sun-rises/