Fortunately for us, his music does that for him. "Well I've always hated the term singer-songwriter," McNamara admits, "but I don't mind as much nowadays because I've realised that people like Tim Buckley and Tom Waits had huge variation in what they did. It wasn't about writing moody ballads, it was about being experimental, taking influences from jazz, folk, the avant-garde and mixing it all together with interesting stories and surreal lyrics. So even though in theory, I am one, I don't want to be lumped in with all those who have mucked up the name over the past few years - all that middle-of-the-road, boring, acoustic sludge." From tales of fantastical cornfields to rousing sea chanteys, McNamara's upbeat shuffles are instantly beguiling by their very nature. "I'm never goin' to sit down and write a horrible, dull love song," he maintains.
"I just think it's far more interesting to write about the things you fantasise about in far-off lands. A lot of my songs deal with characters that sort of stand out from the norm, yearning for something they can't quite grasp: the pirate, the stalker, the ventriloquist, the 14th century jewel thief." Beginning with his childhood visits to the piano, this playground of ideas was triggered by a certain sequence of events. "When I was younger, I used to sit down and write a little waltz or a marching tune, just because they're so simple to get a nice melody with. Then when my parents went to Russia and brought back a few CDs, I just started getting into all this gypsy music.
It really got me - the minor key and the strange melodies have such a rhythmical pulse to them. Musicals and operas always seemed to be around me as well…so I just absorbed them. I love the idea of writing elaborate stuff that has a strong basis for a story behind it." Occasionally joined by his band of cohorts, The Fillets, McNamara is eager to call upon jazz and funk musicians alike in order to get the most out of his eclectic songmanship. "When I've been writing these tunes, I've always pictured them as symphonic to a certain extent, adding in lots of things to fill out the sound completely.
So working with a classically trained pianist with dynamic arrangements pushes my own stuff forward into a territory that most singer-songwriters don't delve into." Naturally, then, McNamara's style is difficult to pigeon-hole - a result due in no small part to his time spent harvesting used record collections. "With the advent of the Internet, and just from working near music shops, I used to pick up things at random, because music is all about taking chances. If you don't take chances with what you're purchasing, you're not going to be able to take chances with what you're writing." With a commanding range and an endless songbook of colourful escapades, McNamara's gift for combining enchanting melodies, tango rhythms and Tetris beats certainly makes for a mouth-watering prospect. A candidate for our new maestro of all things bohemian, don't count on him inhabiting that clandestine cleft for long. - Connected magazine, August 2006 http://www.myspace.com/kevinmcnamaramusic Read more on Last.fm.
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