In 2012 while traveling through New Zealand, my wife and I were introduced to the music of Andrew Keoghan, the multi-instrumentalist who play plays the violin, guitar, synth, beats, and other instruments. In addition, Keoghan is a classically trained singer and arranger, and his growth as a musician started at a very young age. Born in Antigua and raised predominantly in New Zealand, Keoghan grew up in a musical family and schooled in the art of performance, as the family would often play community shows in Antigua and elsewhere. Keoghan started off playing the violin and as a youngster would play on the steel drums. Over time, he would experiment with other instruments, including being self-taught to play the guitar.
While Keoghan has been performing as a musician for nearly a decade, it wasn’t until 2011 when he released his splendid debut LP, Arctic Tales Divide, which was named the NZ Herald’s top album of that year. Combining folk, pop, synth-pop, and symphonic elements, Keoghan’s “art-pop” is imaginative, captivating, and complex. Some songs may sound slighltly familiar, such as “Carnival Lights”, which adopts a similar, melodic pop melody combined with layered percussion, including steel drums, a la Yeasayer and Vampire Weekend; “Wheels Keep Turning” and “I Have Only Eyes for You”, the closest songs resembling Andrew Bird’s solo work; or “Bright Idea”, which ’70s pop revivalists Field Music couldn’t have written any better.
Then there are original songs like “Gloria (Clean Sheets and a Fishbowl)”, a beautiful mix of synth with melodic pop; “Dr. Seuss Sounds”, a quirky, lo-fi folk tune; or “Ca Va Bien Merci”, arguably the best track on this great album as it combines a touch of symphony with plenty of catchy indie-pop. The title track, “Arctic Tales Divide”, is a groovy, almost R&B-esque tune with Keoghan’s voice sounding like David Gahan – or in other words, think Depeche Mode meets Twin Shadow. “Floor’s a Canvas” is another catchy tune, although it is a rocker as oppose to a groovy track.
In the recording of Arctic Tales Divide, Keoghan played all the instruments on many of the songs. And at many of his live shows, akin to the American Andrew, Keoghan would re-enact the process, looping his vocals and all his instruments to create a full-band effect. To see this live gives a great appreciation to Keoghan’s skills and mastery of his music.
Andrew Keoghan is currently in the process of finishing his second album, which he recorded in Brooklyn and hopes to release this fall. He will be playing a few shows in the next few weeks, including this Thursday night (June 12) at Breakglass Studios in Montreal, where he will support The Luyas. Tickets can be purchased at LFT TCKT.
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