You Can't Outrun The Radio
Produced by Jonathan Byrd with assistance from Corin Raymond, tracked in Manitoba, Canada, in two days by people who'd never met each other. Kicking off with a chugging bassline from a lost 60's spy movie, You Can't Outrun The Radio is a wild ride where ten songs smolder and spark between elements of intimacy and escape, freedom and self-destruction, destiny and chance. Creatures human and otherwise flee from their natural limits in the midst of infinity. Byrd tells their stories well. Byrd and his ace team run from Rockabilly (".38 Baby") to classic country (“Starlight”) to hard core Harry Smith Americana (Poor Johnny). From the midst of these familiar sounds rises “Pale Rider,” with its eerie cumulative imagery painting a death-driven landscape. “Working Offshore,” another of Byrd’s greatest songs, portrays what it takes on the human level to provide the energy celebrated in “Mama’s Got Wheels” and “A Big Truck Brought It.” Weird America persists, Byrd suggests, reaching down into Mexico (“Slip Away”), up through Canada and out into space (“Close Enough to Touch”). Powerful and provocative, You Can't Outrun The Radio references Byrd’s earlier explorations without repeating them.
“A gem-encrusted delight” - No Depression
“Wonderful songwriting, beautiful production, and deeply rooted in what makes American Roots Music great: Deep Southern Pain. It’s the hurt that brings the songs, and it’s the songs that heal the hurt. Jonathan’s songs bring us there, and back. Check this record out, it’s a good ‘un.” - Mary Gauthier
“like church and sex at the same time” - Jessee Havey of The Duhks
“...raw and gritty with moments of crystalline beauty.” - popmatters.com
The Barn Birds
The Barn Birds is an album about romantic love expressed with sophisticated musicality, smart songs and great sound. Byrd and Kokesh include songs written with and by Amy Speace, Anthony da Costa, Carey West, Corin Raymond, Anais Mitchell, Rob Vaarmeyer, Luke Dick, and the late Jack Hardy. The Barn Birds was recorded live-off-the-floor at Wimberley Texas' Temple of Sound, Blue Rock Studio and Artist Ranch. Mixed by John Keane (REM, Indigo Girls, Drive By Truckers) and mastered by Brent Lambert at Kitchen Mastering (Megafaun, Avett Brothers, Ani Difranco). A gorgeous, grainless, hauntingly natural disc for audiophiles and lovers.
“This rootsy North Carolinian may be the most buzzed-about new songwriter in folkdom. He displays John Prine's gift for stark little songs that tell big, complex stories, Guy Clark's lean melodicism, Lyle Lovett's wry mischief, and Bill Morrissey's knack for the revealing image.” - Scott Alarik, Boston Globe
Kokesh “sounds a little like Tracy Grammer and a lot like success on the American circuit.” - Eugene Weekly
Jonathan Byrd is a seventh generation North Carolinian. "Cackalacky" is vernacular poetry for "Carolina." Cackalack was recorded live in a converted garage on a sunny afternoon in Toronto, Ontario with no headphones, no listenbacks, no separation, and no overdubs. Recorded by gold and platinum record-producing Ken Whiteley, and accompanied by Canadian super-pickers from The Foggy Hogtown Boys and Creaking Tree String Quartet, Cackalack is Byrd's homeland manifesto. Having recently made WFMT Midnight Special host Rich Warren's "50 Most Significant Songwriters of the Past 50 Years", a list which includes giants like Bob Dylan, John Prine, and Joni Mitchell, Jonathan approaches his work on Cackalack with the most ordinary of materials: Chicken wire. Concrete. Roofing tacks. He takes us to real, everyday places. The Outer Banks, where wild ponies still run. Rockwell, where Byrd sings a song to his father's ashes. And 95 South, a great river of humanity that brings us rolling back south from a hard tour.
"Cackalack's songs are dirt road visits with the neighbors outside your car window." - Tim O'Brien
"Sly, subversive and able to say more in two words than most other people can say in a novel, Byrd is clearly one of the tent poles of contemporary folk music. He sounds like he’s straight from the back porch but he’s taken a long, hard look at life and knows how to bring it into focus. Basically recorded in one six hour take, this album is going to set your ears on fire, even if you aren’t a folkie. Hot stuff." - Chris Spector, Midwest Record
The Law & The Lonesome
A stalwart of modern folk music, Jonathan constantly evolves in new musical directions and each incarnation has proven to be masterful. The Law and the Lonesome brings together the best of his southern roots and the increasingly strong influence of Texas. Full of desperate people and their dark familiars- crows, coyotes, and sudden storms - The Law and the Lonesome has an epic feel. Berklee grad and fellow producer Chris Bartos digs into the darkness with a sweeping and spare sonic landscape: a haunting 5-string violin, clanging electric guitars, mandolin, and double bass. Also joining Byrd is Corin Raymond, from Toronto, Canada's own The Undesirables.
"With just himself and Chris Bartos, Jonathan Byrd has crafted a potent canvas as searing as Neil Young's stripped down masterpieces but with a touch of the laid back Eagles and the timbre one hears in the more haunting runs of a Chris Darrow or Ry Cooder."
- Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
This Is The New That
Jonathan Byrd delivers a convincing and thrilling rock and roll album, full of ace songwriting and musicianship. It's distinctly Southern in feeling, full of character and characters crossing paths and swords in a world pierced through with incomprehensible forces. The ever-evolving Byrd mentions as influences, Bob Dylan, Anais Mitchell, The Beatles & Merle Haggard.
"Jonathan Byrd continues to inspire awe with his versatility and musical sensitivity. This Is the New That does for rock and roll what The Sea and the Sky did for bluegrass, which is to take things to a different level. No one doubts that rock and roll can speak with a meaningful voice, but it hasn't spoken with such integration and grounded perspective for many years indeed. Folkies will like this recording, but Byrd draws a wider circle concentric to the one he already created. It is possible for first-rate songwriting to be sustained through a full length rock recording while exploring nearly every mode of human emotion and remaining, for lack of better words 'very cool.' If you doubt it, spin the disc and you'll see."
- Randy Auxier, WDBX Carbondale, IL
The Sea & The Sky
The Sea and the Sky is a suite of music that travels across a vast emotional landscape. Conceived, written, and produced by North Carolina's Jonathan Byrd, this acoustic epic features the multi-instrumental artistry of the world-music duo Dromedary. Though the album is grounded in American roots music, Dromedary weaves in music from all over the ocean -- Portugal, Spain, South America, the Caribbean, and Africa -- to paint a more complete musical picture of the world that Jonathan originally intended to create.
The album is built on the energy of 2 days of live group performances in the studio, with friends from all over the east coast sitting in on bass, fiddles, and accordion. From the mouths of the characters that Jonathan created --lovers, sailors, slaves, and slavers -- we hear expressions of longing, love, tragedy, and hope. Dromedary's charango, Appalachian dulcimer, mandolin, cumbus, and flamenco guitar dart in and out of the album like the characters themselves.
On Byrd's second CD, The Waitress, he's still telling tales of country towns, but the characters are carrying cell phones and recovering from foreign wars. Using the same "less is more" approach as he did with Wildflowers, Jonathan tells vibrant stories, often with only his guitar for accompaniment. In June 2003, The Waitress was ranked no. 22 in airplay from the international folk DJ group, folkdj-l. "The Ballad of Larry" was printed in Sing Out! magazine and sent to their 2500 subscribers on CD. The title cut's a funny but unsettling slice of romantic obsession with the lady who keeps his cup of coffee filled. "Tape Full of Love Songs" reveals an ironic twist worthy of an O. Henry short story. "Rosie," a chilling murder ballad from Byrd's family history, sung a capella, just might raise the hairs on the back of your neck. With fiddle, accordion, bass and cello.
"...my discovery of the year. Byrd is right up there with the best of them with a twist and turn of phrase, a facile use of language and the ability to tell a story straight into your heart. This is an unforgettable CD."
- Rich Warren, WFMT
Jonathan's career started with a contest. In the year 2000, Byrd took grand prize in the North Carolina Songwriter's Coop Song contest in his hometown of Carrboro, NC. Inspired, he began to tour and recorded his first CD, Wildflowers. With spare production, these lyrical tales of love and death made a surprising impact. Folk legend Tom Paxton discovered Byrd's music online: "What a treat to hear someone so deeply rooted in tradition, yet growing in his own beautiful way." Touring musicians like Jack Lawrence and Larry Keel began to cover his songs.
"I thought I was listening to a young Doc Watson."
- Jay Moulon, Southeast Performer Magazine