Shred Kelly “Blurry Vision”

DevilDuck Records, 2023

Dark times but not without hope; the theme of a pleasingly varied record that bears repeated listening.

Artwork for Shred Kelly album "Blurry Vision"Shred Kelly. If you see the band’s name and assume this album will be full of heavy rock music featuring over the top guitar histrionics, you’d be forgiven; but you’d be wrong. Shred Kelly’s music has been described as a blend of alternative, folk and rock. The name comes from a former band member, Australian Steve Polit, who had the idea to base the name on that of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. ‘Blurry Vision‘ is the band’s sixth LP, coming three years after previous release ‘Like a Rising Sun‘.

For ‘Blurry Vision‘ the band were ensconced in a cabin at The Farm Studios, located remotely in a rainforest on British Colombia’s Sunshine Coast, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, following some of The Farm’s previous clients, including Alice Cooper, Björk and Danko Jones. Being away from it all with no distractions, in this idyllic location, allowed band members to re-engage with one another, to bond through living, working and just spending time together, after years of being apart; this they claim helped breathe new life into their music. The 10 songs here generally paint a picture of dark times, while not abandoning hope.

The LP begins with the atmospheric ‘Stained Glass‘, which has a noteworthy dual lead vocal arrangement featuring Tim Newton and Sage McBride. Lyrics such as “Watching the storm through the stained glass, You know I’ll wait it out with you” and the musical accompaniment makes it possible to picture the scene. On ‘Blissfully Unaware‘ with McBride’s vocals (sounding at times very much like Native Harrow’s Devin Tuel) and Newton’s banjo prominent; we hear about McBride’s feelings of anxiety; feeling she’s changed (not necessarily for the better) “Maybe I’ve changed, Everyone else seems to be the same” and “Can we go back to the days When we were blissfully unaware“.

Better Times‘ again features the banjo, this time played at a frenetic pace and the song is underpinned by a stomping bass drum beat. The desperation of watching a loved one struggle through a mental health crisis; wanting to help but feeling helpless to do so makes it thought-provoking. ‘Days We Have Left‘ is written from the point of view of being at a low point in a relationship, with hope that things will improve if they stick it out; the chorus includes “Will you still stay with me even though I’m not my best, We can ride out this life together with the days we have left”.

The album ends strongly, with two great tracks. ‘Ocean Therapy‘ is about seeking ways to cope with the pain of the loss of a loved one. ‘Nothing for a While‘ is perhaps the best song on the record, benefitting from powerful melodies, changes of pace and words covering a subject that will strike a chord with many of us; the information overload we get from our many devices. It’s about shutting it out for a time, reconnecting with ourselves; a digital detox in effect.

This is very much a contemplative release, with serious subject matter covered, but lots of light and shade musically.

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