Jack Byrne has greatly refined his six-string stylings on his 2010 EP Love Is War, a collection of heartfelt acoustic tunes. While many singer/songwriters employ backing bands or use involved arrangements, Byrne allows his natural talents to shine through, letting his compositions focus almost exclusively on his strong guitar-playing and singing.
In his music, Byrne channels the hushed folky tones of greats like Iron & Wine or Simon and Garfunkel. While the vocals of these artists can often be more subdued, Byrne’s voice is powerful and present—it’s truly an additional part of the instrumentation and not just a method to convey his lyrics. Thematically, this is an introspective record that focuses on, as you might have guessed, love. Even at their most narrative, the lyrics still reveal a deeper emotional insight into each track’s subject.
The songs are at their best when Byrne weaves his intricate finger-picking and vocal harmonies into his arrangements. This is most notable in standout tracks “Lioness” and “I Ate Civilization,” with the latter featuring amazing ghostly layered harmony, quite reminiscent of Grizzly Bear. Another highlight is “Without Looking Back,” where Byrne does his best Sufjan Stevens imitation, breaking into an unfaltering falsetto, while singing about sneaking away from the world with a lover. Overall, this is an excellent EP, well worth a listen for enjoying the complexity of its simplicity.
-Kevin Junker of Supertonicmedia.com