By Kerry Doole
Published May 11, 2016
The full title of this album is significant, for it indicates that Here Without You isn’t strictly a Byrds tribute album. It’s more specific than that, as Skydiggers zero in on one of that pioneering band’s key songwriters: the rather undervalued Gene Clark.
To singer Andy Maize, “his songs struck a deeper chord with us,” and his group does them justice via these original and pleasing reinterpretations of his work. The record is quite sparse and minimal in sound, with the clear focus being on the voices of Maize and harmony singer Jessy Bell Smith. Long one of Canada’s most emotionally eloquent singers, Maize is in top form here, with that haunting delivery well suited to most of this material.
The general mood is a mellow one, but there’s a lively feel to “One in a Hundred,” boosted by period-appropriate tambourine. The group also gets more musically expansive on “So You Say You Lost Your Baby,” a tune that exudes a brooding, neo-psychedelic vibe. It takes a few listens to get used to the new version of vibrant Byrds rocker “Feel A Whole Lot Better,” now slowed right down and featuring multiple female backing vocals, but it’ll gradually seduce you, while another Byrds classic, “Eight Miles High” undergoes a similar radical reinvention.
Highlights here include the quiet shimmering beauty of “The World Turns All Around Her,” mostly sung as a duet, and closing cut “She Don’t Care About Time,” another gentle gem. (Latent)