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Album Review

Kieran Kane along with longtime musical associate Kevin Welch and Fats Kaplin join for their second album as a trio. Although it shares the same basic instrumentation and stripped down, one take, folk approach of 2004's You Can't Save Everybody, the follow-up is more full, layered, and seems ever so slightly beefed up. Multi-instrumentalist Kaplin (guitar, pedal steel, oud, accordion, fiddle) is better integrated and helps fill out the sound that is still primarily acoustic, but has flashes of subtle electric guitar fills. The songs are largely ballads concerning the usual suspect topics of lost love ("Clean Getaway"), cars as a metaphor for life ("Them Wheels Don't Roll Anymore") and spiritual concerns ("I Can't Wait"), yet the melodies and singing are so consistently engaging that the project takes on a life of its own. A few more upbeat tunes such as the closing cover of Willie Dixon's "Mellow Down Easy" (a far cry from Little Walter's boogie thumping original) would help keep the energy flowing, but there is no shortage of talent and enthusiasm here. Kane and Welch's vocals, both solo and in tandem, find a melancholy groove that is hypnotic, beautiful and sincere. Welch's reflective "Heaven Now," a sad and insightful meditation on ageing, is stunning in its simplicity and naked emotion. "To the Harvest Look Ahead" takes a simple circular melody, brings a swampy, dusky mood and connects with restrained intensity. Middle Eastern chords infuse the mysterious "Mr. Bones" with Kaplin's oud driving the world beat influences. The recording is clean, clear and crisp, with each instrument defined under the vocals making a good album even better. Highly recommended especially for folk/Americana fans.

Lost John Dean, Fats Kaplin
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