Joe Kelly & The Royal Pharmacy – Amber Glow (EP review)

That’s it then, that’s the end of summer. All we’ve got to look forward to is more lock down, confusing government enforced restrictions and good old anxiety inducing uncertainty.

But wait! All’s not quite doom and gloom, for Joe Kelly & The Royal Pharmacy have released their brand-new EP “Amber Glow”, recorded remotely during lockdown.

The desirous “Dream of Spring” kicks off this EP, rather fittingly with the opening line “Oh the nations been of lockdown and it came without a warning”. It would be wasteful not to start with this sentiment given the last six months!

Joe Kelly & The Royal Pharmacy are often tagged as Americana and whilst sometimes compared to Bob Dylan & Neil Young, there is more of a Bruce Springsteen feel (Nebraska era perhaps) about this EP. The title track, undoubtedly the centrepiece of the collection and with notes of The War On Drugs is ambitious, warm and sprawling, it’s a career highlight to date.

“The Neighbours”, a summer anthem in waiting (although perhaps we’ll have to wait till next summer) displays Kelly’s ability to pen a ballad that makes me want to punch the air rather than a brick wall. Final track “Carousel”, stripped back but not bare sees Kelly once again in a reflective mood “I’ve got rainclouds in my head, putting paid to all my plans” he laments.

All four tracks on “Amber Glow” were produced/mastered by their very own keysman Jon Greening. Since his arrival the band have noticeably progressed, not only because of his capability to produce (and with bags of skill), but the fact the sound is now so rounded and wholesome. The band have set the bar for themselves now, but you suspect it’s something they’re completely at ease with.

Amber Glow is out now! You can listen to the title track and “Carousel” via the bands Bandcamp page. To hear all four tracks, check out Kelly’s Facebook page, where you can order the CD, but you’d better hurry as they’re a limited run and when they’re gone…they’re gone! Oh, you can also now pick up yourself a brand new JK&TRP t-shirt. Go get one!

Gavin Facey 21/09/2020

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