A little bit of general knowledge about me / admission of bias – everything about Galway is my jam.
Supermacs? Oh yeah. An arch from Spain? Absolutely, hit me. Claddagh rings?! Oh baby yeah. I also spent 3 years there and had a beautiful time, in case anyone thinks I’m being facetious. There’s something infectiously charming about everything Gaillimh, which gave Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, the debut album from Galway songwriter Reylta, a massive head start in my mind.
There’s a very spooky vibe from the photo shoots for Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – a grainy picture of dancing around a tombstone. These gothic aesthetics are translated to music by the gorgeous application of strings through the hefty 14-track album. Beyond that though, this is a fairly amicable (if somewhat melancholic) collection of varying styles & musical voices.
A whole spectrum of emotion is on display from dear Reylta. There’s some moody tunes for helping you plumb the unfathomable depths of the soul or whatever, like ‘01’, or ‘Make Me Feel’. Once you’ve finished your brooding, you can perk up with ukulele-led ‘Pinstripes’ and First Aid Kit-inspired ‘Rain’.
The varying styles, previously mentioned, are both a strength and a weakness, depending on who’s asking. Songs like ‘Closer’ and ‘Gracious’ are intriguing explorations into rockabilly and soul genres, demonstrating a diverse range. Still, as a collective album it’s hard to see a common thread that makes all fourteen tracks feel like a cohesive set of songs.
It’s interesting to hear several styles, all that being said. Instrumentation-wise, it’s a classic guitar-bass-drums kind of set up throughout. What sets Everything Not Saved apart is the quality of the string compositions. The strings stick their oars in on nearly every track, elevating songs like ‘Holy’ from a very ordinary ballad to a distinct, intelligent piece. These string parts are far and away the highlights of the album & breath such fresh life into each track.
For lyrical minds, the album can be a little hit-and-miss. ‘Holy’ and ‘Sightseeing’ (among others) have some really meaty lyrics that you can sink your teeth into and rip apart. Others, like ‘Introductions’ and ‘Lucifer’s Love’ have a child-like simplicity and meloncholy aesthetic that can be hard to chew. Massive props to Reylta for translating ‘Lucifer’s Love’ to ‘Leannán an Diabhiall’ however, it’s always such a rare treat to hear a new song as Gaeilge. I do question the decision to put both on the same album, however – I feel as though one or the other was probably the right call.
Ultimately, although there are some excellent songs (‘Sightseeing’ stood out as a particularly highlight), the entire collection feels like it could have done with a few more minutes in the oven – still delicious, but you just know that with a little more patience there could have been something really special. Certainly no need to be discouraged on Reylta’s side – there’s a lot to be proud of in Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost. I believe it’s only a small matter of time and experience before Reylta is one of the standout songwriters in the Irish music sphere.