Contemporary singer, songwriter multi-instrumentalist, photographer, and videographer Kirby Sybert makes his solo full-length debut with Happy People Make Happy Things, which arrived back on August 7th. Kirby sings, plays guitar, keys and drums in addition to recording and producing a large portion of the album from the bedroom of his Philadelphia home. It is a return to the simplicity and joy of creating something on one’s own terms while taking the recordings to fantastic levels despite the lack of fancy, expensive studio gear.
Happy People Make Happy Things is an introspective sonic journey highlighted by Sybert’s soulful vocals, psychedelic guitar riffs, rubbery bass lines, and drums that hit right in the pocket. Each of the nine original songs on the album are reflections of the only constant in the human experience–change.
The album opens up with the swelling “Ease Fulfillment”, which was written and recorded in one night at home. Kirby sings, “Fighting hard to claim my stake/In an industry I’ve grown to hate/People laugh, but it’s all fake?Whoa-oh, what a waste/Shake my hand and stab my back/Does anyone get anywhere like that?/On that note, I’m headed out, back home to my family”
“Winds of Change” would not be out of place on the Band‘s Music From Big Pink and centers around the continual growth experienced by human beings. The song was first conceived during a late-night jam session in Austin, TX when Kirby was on tour playing guitar with Philadelphia favorites, Mo Lowda & The Humble. The track features guest vocals by Mo Lowda’s Jordan Caiola who co-wrote the tune, and reminds the listener of classic Americana as more of a throwback to The Eagles or Tom Petty.
“My Maker” has the feel of a Black Crowes song, and Kirby’s vocals sound like Chris Robinson here. Of the track Kirby says, “This is my rumination on death and living in the moment. It’s a constant reminder for me to step back and enjoy what’s going on around me.”
Kirby Sybert – “My Maker” [Live]
[Video: kirby tv]
“This Life” is a sparse acoustic number that sounds like it could have been written in the Laurel Canyon artist collective of the 1960s, while “Without You” is more of a funky, 70s-era inspired jam.
“I also started writing a lot about love in the familial sense. I was trying to get away from the traditional love type song and exploring more ideas of how I love on a daily basis,” added Kirby. “This Life” is reminiscent of early Pink Floyd, a lovely track with a nice acoustic jam.
“Donny” is Kirby’s tribute to Donny Hathaway’s tragic death, how his daughter Layla carries on the Hathaway legacy, and was originally written and recorded with his former project, Kirby and the Vibe Tribe. This song might be confused with some previous Black Keys releases. On the haunting “Better Than I Was”, Kirby experiments with shifting vocal pitches and playfully enjoys playing a sinister role. “I’ll Be There For You” is a clap-along tune, and an anthemic ode to friendship inspired by a car accident Kirby’s roommate was in and how important it is to show up.
Happy People Make Happy Things takes listeners back to simpler times, with tracks that throw back to classic artists from an earlier period, as well as more modern artists like Nick Cave, Fleet Foxes, or Band Of Horses. Kirby’s style is unique and interesting and broad, and a full listen through the album will take one on a journey.
Having grown up in central Pennsylvania, Kirby found himself in New York City for a short stint before settling in Philadelphia where he discovered a scene filled with musicians and creatives that fully embraced him.
“This city has really opened me up to being an artist and has allowed me to continue that artistic journey,” he added about his creative journey. “It’s got such a vibrant music scene in all parts of the city, and I’m thankful to be a part of the little sliver myself and my friends have carved out. After moving I really started integrating myself in the scene and playing a lot of shows with a lot of people.”
In addition to fronting his own band, Kirby often pops up in other bands around Philadelphia primarily playing guitar, keys, and sometimes finding himself behind the drum kit. He has spent the last several years touring with Mo Lowda and The Humble – at first as a photographer and videographer and currently as a guitar player.
“Artistically I have two parallel paths in my creation, and it’s been that way ever since I can remember,” Kirby said. “Both music and photography/videography are constantly changing and evolving. The more I see and hear the more my artistic output changes. It’s cool too, traveling as a musician and meeting other artists who are in a similar boat as I am. I’ve collaborated and made so many relationships with my ability to shoot stuff while out on the road. I feel fortunate to be able to tap into these two very creative outlets and have people respond in such compelling ways to what I create … I want people to take away the positivity that I’m trying to convey and to have them look into themselves to find what their purpose is.”
Kirby Sybert will play select shows in support of Happy People Make Happy Things as soon as the world opens back up and fans can gather and bask in the joy that is experiencing live music together.
Stream the entire album via the Spotify player below.
Kirby Sybert – Happy People Make Happy Things