Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious, 12 April 2013
This review is from: Among The Leaves (Audio CD)
Before I start enthusing about this album let me give you a short history of my relationship with the music of Mark Kozelek. Armed with this you will know whether your tastes are aligned with my own and thus whether or not you value my take on this collection of songs.

Red House Painters are my all time favourite band. `Rollercoaster' is my all time favourite album and probably always will be.

The work he's released under his own name I have enjoyed without loving.

I have found his Sun Kil Moon output patchy. I loved his Modest Mouse covers album Tiny Cities, but didn't go mental for `Ghosts of the Great Highway' and `April' like everyone else seemed to. There were some good songs on there but far too much self indulgence and mumbled lyrics that failed to really engage.

Then there was Admiral Fell Promises. I hated this album. It just sounded to me like an excuse for him to show off how good a guitarist he had become. Like listening to a very dense, dark and dry `Learn how to play acoustic guitar' self-help CD.

And so, finally, I get to the review of this work of art. What an amazing return to form, without repeating what's gone before in any way. This is a beautiful, witty, moving, reflective and absolutely brilliant album. There's tonnes of light, plenty of shade and everything in between. At 17 songs, it's an album of great length, but in my opinion, all the recent self-indulgence has been discarded. Every song has its merits and interest and I love every one. I can't believe that other fans think some of it sounds unfinished, but musical opinions are, in my opinion, the most personal opinion you can hold.

The underlying theme of the whole album is ` this is what it's like to be a jobbing, fairly low level singer-songwriter in the 21st century'. Kozelek is clearly fed up many a time with this life, the life he dreamed about as a kid, but he approaches his subject matter with great humour and warmth. No clearer example of this is evident than on `UK Blues', about the homesickness and hassles associated with touring. Anyone who has seen him live or met him will know that he is not the humourless curmudgeon the media would have you believe. His geniality and wit are really to the fore here and is set over one of the many great tunes on the album.

At last, he's decided again to bring the lyrics to the fore on these songs and make them engaging and most importantly, decipherable, both in terms of subject matter and actually making out what he's singing. Ironically, he's broken with his tradition and included a lyric sheet this time around, but for the most part this is not needed. This all helps to make a connection between him and the listener that I haven't really felt since the RHP days.

In summary, lots of great tunes, great lyrics, emotion and warmth. I liked it a lot when I first listened and it has got better and better with each play. Highly recommended.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Nov 2013 01:04:26 GMT
Your disparaging comments about Admiral Fell Promises are misjudged and offensive. The songs are certainly not compromised by technique, and are, for my money, amongst the most beautifully-crafted and atmospheric he has ever produced.

And anyway, why the hell shouldn't he showcase his considerable guitar ability? I'm suspicious of musicians who play well within their ability, just to foster some fake 'Man of The People' reputation.

Musical excellence is not something to be afraid of; that way lies X Factor fodder and similar abominations.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Nov 2013 18:13:35 GMT
D Ashcroft says:
I wouldn't waste your energies being offended by other people's opinions on music. Admiral Fell Promises obviously means a lot to you. Great. Anything that brings joy to people in this world is to be applauded. It just wasn't for me. To say anything else would have been misjudged as it would have been a lie. It just did not interact with my own emotions.

Likewise Among the Leaves left many Kozelek fans cold. I personally found it to be a masterpiece and the best thing he's done since Red House Painters. It also displayed masterly musicianship but for me this didn't get in the way of the songwriting and tunes like it did with AFPromises.

Who's right - the Admiral camp or the Leaves camp? No one of course because music is entirely personal. My belief is that when it comes to music there is something for everyone and every musical opinion is valid or, to put it another way, all music reviews are a waste of time. I just wanted to express my love for Among the Leaves in a bored moment.

Anyway, have you tried Perils From the Sea? I thought this was beautiful too. Minimal arrangements but wonderfully done with engaging thoughts and emotions.

You'll probably hate it:-)

Best wishes
DA

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Nov 2013 18:13:38 GMT
D Ashcroft says:
I wouldn't waste your energies being offended by other people's opinions on music. Admiral Fell Promises obviously means a lot to you. Great. Anything that brings joy to people in this world is to be applauded. It just wasn't for me. To say anything else would have been misjudged as it would have been a lie. It just did not interact with my own emotions.

Likewise Among the Leaves left many Kozelek fans cold. I personally found it to be a masterpiece and the best thing he's done since Red House Painters. It also displayed masterly musicianship but for me this didn't get in the way of the songwriting and tunes like it did with AFPromises.

Who's right - the Admiral camp or the Leaves camp? No one of course because music is entirely personal. My belief is that when it comes to music there is something for everyone and every musical opinion is valid or, to put it another way, all music reviews are a waste of time. I just wanted to express my love for Among the Leaves in a bored moment.

Anyway, have you tried Perils From the Sea? I thought this was beautiful too. Minimal arrangements but wonderfully done with engaging thoughts and emotions.

You'll probably hate it:-)

Best wishes
DA

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Nov 2013 02:55:17 GMT
Fair comment. And of course you are entitled to your opinion.

I just got a bit defensive in defense of a set of beautiful/melancholy/romantic songs that I've found much solace in recently (...and I've been dabbling in classical guitar, which probably predisposed me to be a bit more receptive to AFP anyway).

To be honest, I have difficulty criticizing any material put out by any people/artists I have maximum respect for. I always try to see what they were trying to do, on the basis that, if the they saw fit to do whatever they've done, then, they, as people I respect, must have had a good reason for doing what they did, so I cut them plenty of slack (sorry - that was a bit convoluted - almost bored the arse off myself there!).

But, of course, you're right - Music is entirely subjective, and resists over-simplistic like for like comparisons.

...and yes I do like Perils From the Sea :)
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