Minneapolis by way of Belfast

» Submitted From: » by Liz Jones » Posted: 4 September 07
Romantica - The National Side.mp3 Romantica - Drink The Night Away.mp3

There’s nothing like a slice of Americana, is there? It can come from the most unlikely of places, too. Irish immigrant and Romantica frontman Ben Kyle has all the trappings of American folk music nailed down to a tee. Having spent nearly the last 15 years in the area, Kyle is just as Minnesotan as the rest of us. Along with his band, he’s taking Minneapolis music to a national level. With the release of their sophomore album “America”, the band has garnered rave reviews from far beyond our Twin Cities locale.

Romantica first received local accolades from critics after the release of their debut, “It’s Your Weakness That I Want.” Besides grabbing the award for “Best Americana Album” at the 2004 Minnesota Music Awards, Kyle was involved, interestingly enough, in a few International Songwriting Competitions as well. Kyle isn’t the only one turning heads, however. The undertakings of his bandmates are equally impressive. Eric Heywood, who is the brother of local guitar virtuoso Phil Heywood, was an active member of alt-country linchpin Son Volt for four years. Moreover, the band’s fiddler, Jessy Greene, has played intermittently with greats like Wilco and the Jayhawks.

On key track “The National Side”, Kyle weaves a storyline, driven by his acoustic guitar and a great little run-in with some mariachi horns, about his family’s departure from Belfast years ago. Sentiment runs high on the album’s 12 tracks as Kyle wistfully recalls various details of his life back in Northern Ireland.

After a lengthy national summer tour, the band is back in town and has a handful of local gigs lined up. Be sure to catch a show and pick up a copy of “America”, which, only halfway through 2007, has been dubbed by the Star Tribune as a forerunner for the year’s best local album.

Shows The Turf Club
1601 University Ave St. Paul, Saturday Sept. 15th, Cover: $6

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