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For the past twelve months singer and songwriter George Byrne has been working away on his debut album, an exquisite offering of songs under the banner of Foreign Water.
Foreign Water (which features guest appearances from Lior and Holly Throsby) is nothing less than an achingly passionate, textured and intense album of contemporary songs that illustrate why people have been muttering the words 'George Byrne' and 'huge potential' in the same sentence for some time now.
Coming from a creative family (with sisters involved in publishing, painting and acting), the multi-instrumentalist grew up in the Sydney suburb of Balmain, hanging out with the likes of Alex Lloyd, Josh Pyke, Holly Throsby and numerous other contemporary musicians.
After a number of years as a hobby musician (and a serious career as a photographer) it was whilst traveling in Spain early in 2004 that Byrne decided to take his musical inclinations a step further. He bought a guitar from a busker and started writing songs. After asking fellow musician David Lane for some advice, Byrne was pointed in the direction of producer (and Church drummer) Tim Powles. The two connected and began working together recording a collection of songs.
Having released his debut EP 'Iron Skies' in Oct of 2004, Byrne found his song Goldmine a constant fixture on the playlists of radio stations such as JJJ and FBI. The song is included on the Foreign Water album. He was also selected as one of JJJ's Next Crop artists and as a result of this exposure has since had a busy year supporting such acts as The Church, Missy Higgins, Lior, Katie Melua, Thirsty Merc, Alex Lloyd, Epicure, Dan Brodie, Old Man River and Jen Cloher.
Byrne's debut album opens with the title track, a tune that perfectly reflects the songs to come. Sparse, reclined and cool, Foreign Water features simple bass and acoustic guitars swaying on a loose bed of infectious funk-folk beat. Once the band drops in it isn't long before the distinctive, creamy layered vocal sound (that Byrne is steadily making his trademark) is stirred into the mix, making the track simply enthralling.
You'll hear trace elements of early Pink Floyd, Ryan Adams and Beck, as Byrne continues his exploration into loose flowing and richly layered melodic folk-rock with the help of respected producers Jonathan Burnside (The Sleepy Jackson) and Tim Powles (The Church).
With a voice reminiscent of a young David Gilmour and the ability to write music that ranges from atmospheric soundscapes (with cascading strings and haunting pedal steel) to pop-rock gems to simple Neil Young-esque acoustic/harmonica laden ballads, Byrne's record is beautiful and captivating.
Foreign Water is a journey in itself. Go and get it.
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