14 Songs, 53 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

If the recipe for the singer-songwriter tradition has started to feel staid—one part confession, two parts guitar—Nashville-based Ruston Kelly instead mixes a much more complex cocktail on Dying Star, detailing not just his scars, but the ugly ways he got them: “Blackout” confesses his penchant for over-imbibing, while the vocoder-heavy “Son of a Highway Daughter” details his ladykiller ways. Those subjects have been well covered by other country singers, but Kelly’s weathered voice and interest in electro-pop, punk, and even emo showcase a man wrestling with toxic masculinity so he can uncover what’s underneath that palimpsest.

EDITORS’ NOTES

If the recipe for the singer-songwriter tradition has started to feel staid—one part confession, two parts guitar—Nashville-based Ruston Kelly instead mixes a much more complex cocktail on Dying Star, detailing not just his scars, but the ugly ways he got them: “Blackout” confesses his penchant for over-imbibing, while the vocoder-heavy “Son of a Highway Daughter” details his ladykiller ways. Those subjects have been well covered by other country singers, but Kelly’s weathered voice and interest in electro-pop, punk, and even emo showcase a man wrestling with toxic masculinity so he can uncover what’s underneath that palimpsest.

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