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This review is from: Ghosts of the Great Highway (Audio CD)
'Classic Americana' is the title for my review because this CD deserves a far wider audience than RHP fans, like myself, who will be keen to see what Kozelek does next.
There is a warmth and sense of joy emanating from every track on the CD which marks it out from the melancholy of RHP. Any Neil Young impersonator-criticisms are lazy; the only true comparison is that both artists are capable of writing with such a broad brush. I believe that these comments only appeared because of one vocal inflection on the opening track which does remind the listener of Young; a whole album of great songwriting should not be dismissed so easily.
On to the music: Kozelek delivers his familiar mix of beautiful acoustic work. e.g. 'Glenn Tipton', which seemingly appears to be a cosy homespun tale similar to 'Have You Forgotten' from the under-rated RHP 'Blue Guitar' CD until one is brought up short by the line 'I buried my first victim when I was 19' and confident riffing on 'Salvador Sanchez' and 'Lily and Parrots'.
I believe the soothing, melodic 'Gentle Moon' to be his best ever song, listen to it on the way to work and you will be in a good mood all day not matter what s**t you have to face in the office.
The first seven tracks on the CD leave you reeling with their strength of melody, superb genuine-band feel and sense of joy in music, but at the end of the record some familiar Kozelek indulgences appear. 'Duk Koo Kim' is the obligatory over-long epic (14 mins+) but to be fair it is the best of the long tracks Kozelek has written. It is also the most RHP-sounding song on the CD.
'Si Paloma' is the inconsequential instrumental and 'Pancho Villa' is an acoustic re-working of 'Salvador Sanchez' ('New Jersey' and 'Mistress', anyone?). Mark, please pick one version for the CD and save the other for a B-side.
I forgive Kozelek for these sins though, as it is part of his artistic vision and he remains one of my favourite songwriters.
A great CD which all RHP fans and those who love Americana should own.