The common thread through these ten songs is Girelli’s ability to write those melodies or hook lines that get under your skin. He’s no need for bombastic orchestration or big solos; the music is strong enough in itself and it’ll have you coming back again and again.
Coyle Girelli has written songs for global acts such as Westlife and Macklemore, but when looking at his solo work, he is a difficult artist to pigeon-hole. His 2018 debut Love Kills was something of a throwback to 50s/60s popular and country music, with comparisons to Roy Orbison made. 2022’s Funland had a much more contemporary indie sound, although it was more reflective too – perhaps not surprisingly since it was written during lockdown. What these two albums demonstrate though is that Girelli has a rich vein of musical creativity across different musical styles. And of course, he has a fantastic voice to go with it!
Museum Day seems to set out its stall as trying to do something different from its predecessors, at least from the opening song, Jane Tells A Lie, which is an evident homage to one of Girelli’s stated influences, The Smiths. It’s all upbeat jangling guitars and a Morrissey-style drone to the vocal, that just like The Smiths manages to be both upbeat and melancholy at the same time. Girelli himself confessed the influence of The Smiths and similar bands, describing both this song and the excellent So Predictable as ‘half New York, half Manchester’. That comment might lead you to believe Girelli is from New York, but no, he is from Leeds which even natives of the Yorkshire city might admit is a little less romantic than The Big Apple! But, Girelli has been based in New York for some time now and you can feel the American influences in his music as well as his love of the city in his lyrics.
The title track is a good example of how cleverly Coyle constructs songs. The verses scurry along with a jangling refrain full of cheerful energy. It would be predictable if it led to a big chorus and yet the texture thins out and highlights the rumbling bass which is key to the song, with little whisps of ethereal female vocalising supporting Girelli’s voice. The song appears to be about the joy of simply being with a loved one, wherever the destination, and it’s one of the highlights of the album.
While Girelli clearly knows how to do upbeat and infectious songs, personally, I was attracted more towards the quieter laid-back songs. For example, Real Love, reminded me of Joan Armatrading’s ability to build a song around a hushed melody and a delicate accompaniment (the percussion is particularly striking here). Swim is a slow-paced ballad – so slow-paced that it borders on soporific, and yet it’s hypnotic and gets under your skin. The melancholy New York Rain closes the album with a much simpler arrangement – just voice and acoustic guitar – and a very simple melody too, but Girelli’s vocal delivery is as magnetic as Springsteen’s in similar acoustic pieces.
The standout track for me is Nobody, which is also the longest track, being the only one to breach the four-minute mark. It’s another beautifully produced song, with delicate guitar and what sounds like a harpsicord supporting a haunting vocal delivery, seemingly recounting the feeling of solitude after a failed relationship. It is also a very clever song lyrically and Girelli’s ability to mix a withdrawn vocal delivery with some striking imagery is superb (‘when all the lights went out in Central Park, I feel nobody; looking for me inside this sprawling dark, I feel nobody’).
This is certainly an album full of variety. The Girl has an easy-going country rhythm while I Tried To Love You is a slow ballad that has a slightly bluesy swagger to it. But none of this seems contrived in any way. Girelli states that ‘I really let my instinct lead the way and wrote and recorded it quickly, so it feels fresh’, and indeed it does. The common thread through these ten songs is Girelli’s ability to write those melodies or hook lines that get under your skin. He’s no need for bombastic orchestration or big solos; the music is strong enough in itself and it’ll have you coming back again and again.