Beaumont native teams up with Pennsylvanian in debut studio album


At first listen, “Let’s Get Away” is a pleasant experience with pretty melodies and perfectly blended harmonies. But it’s an album that rewards many listenings to allow the wonderful lyrics to really seep into the brain.

This is the first full studio album from Beaumont native Brian Kalinec and Pennsylvanian KJ Reimensnyder-Wagner, who shared the writing credits. And both are excellent storytellers. The tunes with folk accents are punctuated with pretty turns of phrase that accompany the listener.

The opening title song is a great driving song. After being locked up for COVID, getting away from it all is on everyone’s mind. But it’s not just a light jam on the open road. With words like “leave this angry baggage by the door” it hints at some serious nuance. But there is a solution. When “unsolicited opinions feed the rant / Don’t break the spirit / Break the chain” and go.

Probably because I’m a visual artist – and renovating a house – “Paint” was immediately obvious (let’s be honest, the songs we love change with the mood). The lyrics are a clever play on the mundane act of redecorating, with Kalinec seeking to “cover the memories” of an old love.

“I’m tired of living with that lonely shade of blue / A little paint, it might make me forget you,” he sings, before realizing that she may not have him. missed so much after all.

It’s amazing what a cool coat can cover.

On “Where are the old lovers going?” KJ finds it hard to leave a relationship behind him. Her old love is with someone else, and at first it seems like she’s wondering where he is. But she walks past his house. She knows where old love lives.

So the old lover is in the mirror and the question is where is she going now? She sings that her “love is so deep, it’s like endless snow”. And although he’s moved on, she says she wishes him luck, “but I’m honest to say it’s hell.” I love this line. It’s hard to take the high road when you’ve been injured.

“I Don’t Know”, written by Kalinec, is one of those songs that can sound trite if they don’t work, and in his hands the lyrics work well. Musically, it sounds like a song from the Avett Brothers. In fact, the whole album made me think of something else. That doesn’t mean it’s derivative. It just has that classic Americana / folk feel that’s comfortable and has broad appeal.

Next up is a travelogue, with KJ wistfully claiming that she is “at home in Scotland”. Fans of “Outlander” will relate to his atmospheric reveries on the highlands. It’s a tribute to KJ’s poetry that I had a visceral reaction to the lyrics. I could smell the cold air and imagine the fire while picturing the band in “the real music bar”. If KJ is at her home in Scotland, she does a great job inviting us over to the house.

The song that stands out is “On This Winter’s Eve,” written by KJ, a celebration of a lost friend. In order to do the song justice, I should just include all the lyrics.

It is actually a short story about love, loss, friendship, life and death. It starts with receiving a package containing “your favorite scarf”. From there he sets off on a meditation on life which should be sad but which is just too good not to bring joy.

It’s the kind of song that just makes you smile and puts your own memories on it. “And I know I’m not alone here / How good your presence is / I hear you laugh at that laugh / Oh, if only you would,” KJ sings.

But the last line is just great – “The main thing is to keep the essentials the essentials.” This line causes the back button to be pressed to listen to the song once more before continuing. And then, maybe, just one more time.

The album ends with Kalinec bringing humor with “What’s Left Over”, a rejection of consumerism in favor of the little things. This upbeat song tells us he doesn’t follow the Joneses / I don’t like the way they play / I don’t need their fancy cars / They can’t afford them anyway. Kalinec is quite comfortable with “What’s left is good enough for me / What’s left, no more is greed.”

The 10 tracks of “Let’s Get Away” are musically mouth-watering, with violins interspersed with Kalinec’s clever guitar work. The duo’s voices were made for each other. I would also plead for listening to the album to the end.

In the age of individual song streaming, there is an art of streaming an album, and Kalinec and KJ understand that each of these musical news is a great anthology.

“Let’s Get Away” is released by Berkalin Records.

Andy Coughlan is a freelance writer.

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