KB Bayley – Flatlands


KB Bayley - Flatlands

KB Bayley – Flatlands
Format: CD – Digital
Label: Independent
Release: 2022

Release date: November 4, 2022

‘Flatlands’ is the new album from songwriter and lap steel guitar player KB Bayley. It’s the follow-up to 2021’s critically KB Bayley acclaimed Little Thunderstorms, which received glowing reviews and widespread airplay, including shows hosted by Ricky Ross, Robert Elms, Eve Blair and Iain Anderson.

KB described that record as being, “all about the stuff that happens to us: big, small, tragic, uplifting, seismic, significant, everyday, heartbreaking.” Flatlands is about the aftermath of those events and was produced after a tumultuous period for both KB personally and for the world as a whole.

The idea behind the album is timelessly simple: one man in a room, with his Weissenborn guitar, singing ten songs. KB says: “I wanted to share these songs and stories in their most raw form, and I wanted to celebrate my love of the Weissenborn guitar as a unique storytelling instrument.”

KB Bayley (Weissenborn, photo by Dan Cook)
Weissenborn, photo by Dan Cook

The sound is sparse, confessional, emotional. There are shades of the previous album in the lyrical ideas and fingerstyle acoustic playing, but on this record the solo Weissenborn and KB’s unaccompanied voice carry the ten songs, save for a soft felt piano on one and harmonica by singer-songwriter Gavin Thomas on two. A pair of vintage mics captured the unvarnished sound of the steel on the open-tuned strings, the unmistakeable resonance of the Weissenborn, and KB’s intimate vocal delivery.

Six of the ten songs are KB originals. The title track speaks of returning to a much-loved place and feeling the presence of someone who is no longer around. ‘Driftwood Avenue’ is about growing up in a small seaside town, with childhood’s diamond sky replaced by a red light and a hole in the ground (KB’s upbringing takes in both the windswept northeast and south coasts of Britain.) Other songs describe trying to stop time to hold onto someone you love, continued (and failed) attempts at reinvention, and the enigmatic ‘Comet Girl’, who ‘looks like money, sounds like whiskey, on a rainy night.’

KB also interprets songs by four of his favourite songwriters on the album, revealing his deep love for ancient and modern roots music and for Weissenborn guitar as a songwriting platform – ‘The L & N Don’t Stop Here Anymore’ by Jean Ritchie, ‘Johnsburg, Illinois’ by Tom Waits, ‘The Black Crow Keeps on Flying’ by Kelly Joe Phelps and ‘Maybe It’s Time’ by Jason Isbell. KB: “While I was recording ‘Flatlands’ I was aware of a strong connection between these songs and the last album. A musician friend of mine heard the first playback and said this to me: ‘KB – in the aftermath of seismic events, there will always be echoes.’”

Website: https://www.kbbayley.com/

01. Flatlands (3:23)
02. Driftwood Avenue (4:25)
03. Comet Girl (4:19)
04. The L & N Don’t Stop Here Anymore (4:45)
05. Year Zero (3:57)
06. Johnsburg, Illinois (1:16)
07. Time Machine (3:46)
08. The Black Crow Keeps on Flying (3:04)
09. World Without You (3:49)
10. Maybe It’s Time (3:08)

All songs by KB Bayley except 4 by Jean Ritchie, 6 by Tom Waits,  8 by Kelly Joe Phelps and 10 by Jason Isbell

KB Bayley : Weissenborn guitar, voice & felt piano
Gavin Thomas : harmonica on tracks 2 & 5