This article originally appeared in the Kentucky Kernel.
By Matt Wickstrom
According to Warren Byrom, “You’ve got to change the world before the world starts changing you.” Byrom hopes to change the world with his latest record “Heavy Makes You Happy”, out August 13 and produced in partnership with Duane Lundy at Shangri-La Studios.
“Heavy Makes You Happy” is Byrom’s second studio release and the first since 2011s “The Fabled Canelands.” The sophomore effort features eight tracks colliding at a crossroads of alt-rock and honky tonk that includes the talents of Vandaveer’s Robby Cosenza and J. Tom Hnatow; The Wooks Roddy Puckett, Maggie Lander and other area musicians.
Byrom collaborated with longtime friend Whitney Baker for two of the record’s tracks, “Elkhorn Flood Blues” and “Water Tower.” According to Byrom, Baker wrote up the lyrics for “Elkhorn Flood Blues” while Byrom put them to music. The tune refers to the Elkhorn Creek, which falls just one mile short of being classified as a river and flows north of Lexington through Frankfort.
“It’s a true source of cosmic Ky. good vibes, and one of the nearest places I can go and really feel connected to the land,” Byrom said. “It’s also my favorite place to fish, and to just get out of town and forget myself for a few hours. I love how the lyrics evoke the sense of place and the force of the creek waters after heavy rains, and how they speak as a metaphor for the often tumultuous flow of life.”
Aside from his regular gigs around town, Byrom has also been performing at the UK Chandler Hospital for their Tuesdays at Noon series for the past couple of years. One of the tracks on “Heavy Makes You Happy” titled “Ice” was recorded live on an iPhone during one of Byrom’s shows.
“I love the acoustics of that big atrium hallway, and it’s always great to be playing for patients or their families, softening what can typically be a very stressful experience,” Byrom said. (“Ice”) is such a raw and intimate narrative and it really seemed to work, stripping it down in that setting, even though the sound quality isn’t the best.”
Byrom is known throughout Lexington for his raw, heartfelt musical style that strongly emphasizes songwriting, allowing his lyrics to flow freely through a sonic landscape augmented by guitar, percussion, steel pedal, and whatever other instruments lay nearby. While Byrom’s songwriting expertise may fall a click above most, the artist emphasized that his creativity still arrives in bursts and his writing methods are constantly changing.
“Sometimes it just comes out all at once, or it will be there in almost whole form, like a book written in some language I don’t understand, and I have to work at translating it,” Byrom said. “I’m trying to be more committed to the ideas now in terms of working them out with the band, and not taking them so personally.”
Byrom has several upcoming shows around Lexington, including an intimate Thursday night performance with cellist Cecilia Wright at Kentucky Native Cafe as part of their Oktoberfest celebration. Byrom will also perform at The Green Lantern Bar on Tuesday Sept. 27 and Sept. 30 at Al’s Bar with his band Fabled Canelands.