If the pandemic prompted some people to reach for their duvet and binge Tiger King, then it also sparked a creative burst in others. Take up knitting, finish that novel, write that album, and so on. We’ve observed the phenomenon of ‘lockdown albums’ for many months now, with musicians producing work at home and releasing it via independent channels. Here We Are Now is Jimmy Behan’s first album since 2009, and we suspect that it was the pandemic, as well as a new modular synth set up, that prompted his return.
Here We Are Now is a warm, welcoming album that confidently bursts into life with “Rising Road” a foghorn blast of swirling synths that quietens down to allow a guitar to add a hint of colour. Following that is a sequence of understated pieces, with a sense that Behan is easing himself back into the musical world. The later tracks are not overly fussy or complex either, but there is a broadening of the arrangements, and the background sounds grow clearer the further we go. Birdsong provides the backdrop to “Loley’s Dream” dedicated to Behan’s cat (and cover star), sadly no longer with us, no doubt dreaming of chasing birds in pussycat heaven. The lovely “Cosmosis (Your Stars)” reverses the technique of the opening track, with the swaying guitar pattern being swept away by billowing synth.
Despite the long gap between records, Behan does not throw a mass of pent-up ideas onto this album; he has the discipline to stick to one theme rather than fly off in numerous disparate directions. As we would hope for an ambient album, he keeps it simple and engaging. It is worth noting that he has released an EP recently, but those two tracks date from 2008. Whatever caused this break of over a decade, it’s good to have him back. (Jeremy Bye)