Release Date 01/25/2019
(Tin Angel Records) NACC
It seems now that Ian Daniel Kehoe has been hiding in plain sight. A classic songwriter pulling from a seemingly endless supply of hooks, dancing through his debut video in silver face paint and an assortment of wide shouldered sports jackets, Kehoe appears somewhat like an apparition, an emissary from a better world. Secret Republic, Kehoe’s debut under his own name, is an entirely self assured first record, ten confident, immaculate pop songs, drenched in analog synth and punchily articulate in their pursuit of love, beauty and rhythm. Recorded and performed entirely by Kehoe himself, the record is a introduction to this world, one where melody reigns supreme, every love is a true love, and the singer searches endlessly for “prizes through the mazes of the jungles, prizes at the tips of the poles.”
While Secret Republic may be a debut, Kehoe has appeared on the musical scene in various guises. For the past few years, he has toured extensively as a drummer for Andy Shauf (Anti Records), The Weather Station (Paradise of Bachelors), and Julia Jacklin (Polyvinyl). Before that, he was bassist and songwriter in Attack in Black (Dine Alone Records), while releasing several records as Marine Dreams (You’ve Changed). But Secret Republic is something entirely new; the debut of Kehoe as a preternaturally confident front man and producer, with a tight grasp on every musical weapon at his disposal. Secret Republic is a record made in a home studio, a record where Kehoe played and recorded every note, and yet it doesn’t feel inward looking or introspective. Many of the songs are constructed as crowd pleasers, songs to be played from bleachers, soundtracks to first dances and first kisses, songs that could sit alongside ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ on a radio DJ playlist circa 1983. That isn’t to say though that the record feels universal or ordinary. While being eminently approachable, it would be impossible to see it as anything but the product of a very singular mind, one particularly attuned to beauty, and to the taut magic of a perfect riff.
Kehoe has always been a disciple of pop music, in the most traditional sense of the word. A lover of Nick Lowe and Harry Nilsson, Cindy Lauper and Michael Jackson, Kehoe adheres to the idea that music should be moved to, danced to, sung along to. To Kehoe, this is both the most serious thing in the world, and also not serious at all. And this is borne out on Secret Republic, a record which could soundtrack a love either deep or glancing, a record both heavy and feather light.