Kerbside
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Kerbside

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Kerbside are Sean & Kimberley Lightholder, originally from San Francisco, but now based in Ireland, and “Anything Strange” is their debut album. They played a 15 minute slot at the Cambridge Folk Festival at the end of July and, having witnessed it, I can attest that their graduation to bigger and better things cannot be long delayed. Live they purvey soulful acoustic pop like the jaunty “College Town”, which has a beat you have to dance to and a chorus you have to sing, and the bouncy intensity of “10 Minute Anniversary”. When you hear the album though, there’s a deeper, darker side to their music. On “Talk”, a post-relationship plea to a former lover, Sean brings a haunting intensity to his vocals which Kimberley complements perfectly. Sean’s a bit of a lyric star too, as “Chastity”’s “she said I’m not expecting much/he said, well that leaves room for me” and “Mahal Ko”’s “I’ll take you out in the harsh light/bleach you out, blind you hard/and put you away” can testify. There are also some nice instrumental touches scattered across the songs, from “Chastity”’s snatches of Hammond organ to the mandolin on “Indian Dance”, the only cover here. Duos and duets seem to be on the rise, one thinks of The Arlenes, The Havenots and the recent pairing of Thad Cockrell and Caitlin Cary. Kerbside can be mentioned in the same company, and “Anything Strange” is highly recommended.

- Jeremy Searle, Americana-UK


Review Snapshot:

Married troubadour couple deliver an album of stirring folk tunes that ripples with intriguing elegance.

The Cluas Verdict: 7.5 out of 10.

Full Review:

Sean Lightholder plays guitar and percussion. Kimberly Lightholder plays bass. Sean writes the majority of the songs. They both sing. Together, they are Kerbside. But more importantly, as a duo they are creatively deft in making music. From the opening crackle of ‘Mahal Ko’ through to the charming ‘Indian Dance’, both manage to command your attention with an album full of hidden delights.

‘Anything Strange’ flows with a plethora of sweet harmonies, tingling instrumentation and a cavernous swoop of glorious melodies. Basically this gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling inside. The slick production work builds a cosy ambience while making the album feel like it was recorded in a sitting room (which it was). The use of diverse instruments including the mandolin, keyboards, drums and harmonica works well across the album. However, it is Sean and Kimberly Lightholder that you will keep noticing throughout with their combined vocal styles and impeccable sense of timing. Songs like ‘Talk’ and ‘Chastity’ help to showcase a honey-soaked tenderness that cascades along through the album’s entirety.

At times, Kimberly’s vocals remind of a countrified Beth Orton but she has no problems finding her own voice on the tingling ‘Departure’, a song with sorrowful lyrics such as ‘all the imperfections I could not disown/ are stripped away on this happy day’. But this is far from a morbid album though with a number of upbeat folk-pop numbers standing out, including ‘College Town’, ‘Travellin’’ and ‘Indian Dance’. It is the blend of elegant ballads and hopeful pop tunes though that transforms this collection of songs into a well-rounded album. It is one of those albums that tap into a range of emotions without you even noticing.

Kerbside, a name to be aware of and ‘Anything Strange’, an album deserving of your attention. - Gareth Maher, cluas.com


There isn’t anything strange about Kerbside – in fact, there’s something rather beguiling about their blend of country-tinged folk, lilting melodies and acoustic pop sensibilities. A husband and wife duo, Kim and Sean Lightholder relocated from San Francisco’s Bay Area to Athlone a number of years ago and now play a pivotal role in the area’s burgeoning music scene.

Anything Strange, their debut album, is a collection of 11 songs that opens with the crackle of vinyl, which then wraps itself around the ‘live and lo-fi’ track ‘Mahal Ko’. Their love for vinyl extends beyond audio effects, as the CD itself is a perfectly miniature version of a vinyl record, a quirky effort that the music nerd in me found more than a little thrilling. Although the opening track is most definitely lo-fi in nature, with Sean’s vocals sometimes almost disappearing under the hiss, crackle and guitar, the second, more upbeat, track, ‘Departure (Sacrementum Exeuntium)’, showcases Kim’s strong, emotive voice.

Often, listening to an album by a duo can become taxing if one voice is more pleasing than the other, or if the couple’s harmonies don’t quite gel. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Kerbside, as Kim and Sean’s distinctive vocals compliment each other perfectly when the couple do harmonise. Also, rather than having one primary vocal, the two have their turn singing lead on alternate songs, and again this doesn’t feel wearing or inconsistent.

Sean’s lyrics (he writes ten of the eleven songs on the album) weave stories about relationships with travelling tales, his poetic descriptions of his or his characters’ interaction with the world conjuring up images that can be at times colourful (“the press of flesh in empty rooms”), touching (“when love came in a rush/she felt herself begin to go”), and even haunting (“your ghost might keep me company/but the rest of you is gone”). Although there is a predominantly down-tempo feel to the album, this is punctuated by more upbeat tracks like ‘Departure’, ‘College Town’, and ‘Ten Minute Anniversary’. The latter of these is also one of the standout tracks on the album, joined by ‘How Far’, with its inspired cowboy western-style intro. In all, this is an album that is a pleasure to listen to, one that you could throw on during a reflective moment; at the end of a long day - or a long party! Hopefully Kerbside’s gigs outside their hometown of Athlone will continue, so the duo can bring their sound to the rest of the country. - Aoife Barry, Drop-D eZine


By way of Athlone-based Kim Lightholder's soulful vocals and husband Sean's elegiac lyrics, 'Departure' is a haunting yet economic account of frustration. The song's muted humanity gently imposes itself on the listener, hinting at a failed affair, regret and renewal. A beautifully written and elegantly performed heart-rending treat.

- HOTPRESS Magazine


Discography

Next April EP (2002)
Anything Strange (2006)

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Bio

Kerbside plays a compelling, rich kind of dark acoustic rock. Their driving guitars, textured vocals and the interplay between Kim and Sean's voices have impressed audiences throughout Ireland and Europe. Their self-produced debut album, "Anything Strange" received universal praise and their upcoming EP is currently being recorded in Grouse Lodge Studios with a release date of Fall 2008.