What are two Irish guys from Ireland doing at The Linda and not playing jigs and reels?
Well, Guggenheim Grotto isn’t your average Irish traditional import, nor even your U2 Irish-rock copycats. These two Irish lads – keyboardist Kevin May and guitarist Mick Lynch – were celebrating their recent CD release, “The Universe Is Laughing,” with a superb presentation of chat, song and wit to a surprisingly large audience at The Linda in Albany last Saturday night.
If the duo’s organic acoustic music sparks a comparison, it’s most likely to Simon & Garfunkel. The smart finger-picked guitar lines and even smarter lyrics of “Philosophia,” for example, could have been plucked directly from “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” or “Bookends.”
But other musical influences could be heard as well. Not only did “Fee Da Da Dee” resonate with the chordal structure of Scottish rockers Del Amitri, but May’s vocals sounded at times like a dead-ringer for Del Amitri singer Justin Currie. Elsewhere throughout the performance, you could hear echoes of Gerry Rafferty & Stealers Wheel, Rufus Wainwright, Nick Drake and America.
But Guggenheim Grotto managed to put their own distinct imprint on their songs. They don’t push the envelope, but their folk-oriented, adult-pop songs of love and loss were layered with touches of progressive rock and poetry.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “There is nothing modest about Guggenheim Grotto’s talents or performance. For roughly an hour and a half, the two wove a dense tapestry of lilting harmonies, rich chord changes and thoughtful, witty lyrics for the appreciative audience, which filled maybe two-thirds of the venue. Leadoff song ‘Ruby Heart,’ from last summer’s ‘The Universe is Laughing’ album, set the mood early on with gorgeous acoustic guitar and keyboard interplay between May and Mick Lynch. The duo’s vocal gifts really shone through on the second number, ‘Wonderful Wizard,’ showing off the range between Lynch’s smoky bass and May’s more cutting vocal.”