They used to say, and it’s probably still true, that record producers received so many speculative tapes or cd’s that if you didn’t hook them in 30 seconds your cherished little baby would be filed under “Bin” about 5 seconds later. I confess that I can be a bit like that, especially with genres that I’m not really fond of. The Web means that there is so much music available your musical efforts must have an immediate impact if you intend to stop your listener moving on without so much as a by-your-leave.
I first came across Mark Kozelek a few years ago when someone recommended his album “April” to me. I played it and listened. Didn’t quite get it – but I was intrigued. There was something flitting through the arrangements that insisted I try again. So I did, and with each listening the music offered up something more, and when I play that album today it still does. Testimony to well written and captivating music.
I’ve been backwards and forwards with Mark Kozelek since then, solo and with his band incarnation of Sun Kil Moon, and it has been a journey of great pleasure and discovery. His music is often simple with frequently repetitive guitar patterns laying down layers through which he weaves his intimate lyrics. In all, a colourful tapestry that welcomes you in.
His latest offering, “Among the Leaves” (Caldo Verde Records) under his band name Sun Kil Moon, still carries the Kozelek hallmarks of simple rhythms and patterns and lyrical intimacy, but this time, there is a new lightness of touch.
His nylon string arpeggios are sweet and dancing. His voice has a gentle warmth but also an edge. I particularly like the way he will occasionally double up his voice yet separate it into either speaker. A Kozelek wrap-around.
The track titles suggest diary entries. “I know it’s pathetic but that was the greatest night of my life” – “The Moderately Talented yet attractive young woman vs. The Exceptionally Talented yet not so attractive Middle Aged Man” – “ Not much rhymes with everything’s awesome at all times” .
The title song, “Among the Leaves” , has a wonderful shuffle feel with a viola refrain that just makes you want to sway with your arms wrapped around your girl. The lovely melody belies the thoughtful lyric of an unknown homeless girl he’d like to help. A great song.
The only downside is that he’s clearly pissed at the UK ( “UK Blues” appears in two variations) which doesn’t auger well for future tours. Oh well, maybe we can change his mind.
So, try “Sunshine in Chicago” , a song of reflection and wit, and if you like it, try the rest. It won’t kill ya and you just might start your own Sun Kil Moon journey, and that can’t be bad, can it ?