Listening to When You Leave, Irish singer Greg Kavna's new album, I am first struck by its soothing simplicity. Accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, Kavna's every smoky nuance is captured; a voice so smooth requires no frills. Kavna exhibits impressive vocal range and control, allowing him to express the full spectrum of feeling.
The recordings themselves are a little raw, but very pure, further showcasing Kavna's talents. His simple lyrics evoke complex emotion. His heartfelt words are only glimmers in the constellation of voice and notes.
The title track has a sorrowful, jazzy feel to it. Maybe it's the echoing words, maybe the whispering tenor tones, but this song is decidedly haunting... in a good way! Contrarily, "Suzanne & Victoria" is a whimsical, lighthearted piece with clear, sweet vocals and clear, sweet lyrics. "What Am I To Do?" expresses confusion in love. Sometimes there is a fine line between love and hate, leaving one torn. All one can do is "surrender".
I am a folkie and lover of acoustic guitar. Kavna has a beautiful style, and I was very glad he opted to include an instrumental piece on this album. "Angie" is everything I look for in a guitar piece: perfect picking, driving sound, and intricate adornments. Greg's guitar-playing is definitely a strong point of his music.
"Don't Turn Away" is another emotional song, urging one to feel and "just do", which is perhaps better left in song than applied in life. Once again Kavna showcases his superb vocals and instrumentation. "Stay" is a dreamy, hypnotic song, softly urging the listener to "stay". "Summer Days" describes a love turned cold, evoking images of a fast-coming autumn. I greatly enjoyed the lyrics on this one. A nostalgic, wistful way to end the album.
Overall, When You Leave is a highly enjoyable collection of songs. Truly exceptional vocals and beautiful guitar-playing. If there is a weak point, it would be the lyrics. However, love can be as simple as it is complex, so I would argue simple lyrics are just as effective.