Recorded and produced in Vancouver by another Juno Award winner Steve Dawson, â€œHouse of Refugeâ€ is the follow up to 2004â€™s â€œFresh Horsesâ€ and is much more than just a gospel tinged record. It is a twelve track long player of songs and stories of deep soul and faith all brought to breathe by a lust for life and a deference for death. Besides Byrnes and Dawson on guitars, the album features Jesse Zubot on fiddle and mandolin, Elliot Polsky on percussion and drums, Keith Lowe on double bass, Chris Gestrin on keyboard/organ/accordion and the gospel trio The Sojourners on vocals who are Marcus Mosely, Will Sanders, and Ron Small.
Starting with a stirring a capella section from The Sojourners, the traditional album opener â€œDidnâ€™t It Rainâ€ then launches into a powerful back beat of hope and salvation. This is quickly followed by two songs Byrnes penned when he was in Lithuania shooting the feature film Highlander - The Source. While the gorgeous â€œOf Whom Shall I Be Afraidâ€ is a nod to the 27th Psalm, the slowly urgent death chaser â€œRunning Out Of Timeâ€, was written by Byrnes in the time it takes to sing it. Another Byrnes original, â€œThe Death of Ernestoâ€ was written in the middle of the night in the Utah Mountains after meeting Che Guevara in a dream. Whether it is the uplifting interpretation of the â€œFather Of Gospelâ€ Thomas A. Dorseyâ€™s â€œTodayâ€ or the ghost of legendary WLAC DJ John R in Robert Johnsonâ€™s â€œLast Fair Deal Gone Downâ€ or even Jimâ€™s version of young Canadian songwriter Justin Rutledgeâ€™s â€œLay Me Down Sweet Jesusâ€, this is not just a trip, it is a journey. When the bone chilling curtain call closer of Nick Loweâ€™s â€œThe Beast In Meâ€ comes to an end, â€œHouse of Refugeâ€ is a journey you will want to trip through again and again.
Jim Byrnes and his acoustic band has been a major draw at festivals and shows all over Canada the last 2 years and this year should be no different. Watch for Jim and the band as they tour to support their new album. From their â€œHouse of Refugeâ€ all the way to yours.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Didn't it Rain
2. Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid
3. Running Out of Time
4. Big Bill's Blues
5. Lay Me Down Sweet Jesus
8. Be Ready When He Comes
9. The Death of Ernesto Guevara
10. Last Fair Deal Gone Down
11. Fortify Me
12. The Beast In Me