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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Album Review: Scott Kelly And The Road Home – The Forgiven Ghost In Me

Whether you are digging down to the heart of one of his multitudinous, yet always nefarious, music projects, tuning in to discover what he’s currently promoting via his co-owned internet radio station, vicariously living through the bands he’s signed up to his co-owned record label, Neurot, or eating up every one of his blogged words of wisdom, you’ll quickly discover Scott Kelly is a man who isn’t afraid to expose and promote his true feelings. frontman Nate Hall never said it better when he spoke of Kelly earlier this year: “Only a true artist would be so willingly and completely exposed; so intensely focused on truth, redemption and healing; so in tune with the song he has always heard inside.” Ladies and gentlemen, here we have a bona fide living music legend.

Of Kelly’s third solo opus, The Forgiven Ghost In Me, Hall has said “With another collection of sparse, introspective songs, Kelly delves even further into a personal, private space that he occupies fully and solely. His path has been a narrow, dark and difficult one, but… Kelly shows that his strength and vision has endured it all.” That’s quite a build, then, for what is essentially something so, well, “sparse”.

Here, his music, created with the help of friends Noah Landis and Greg Dale plus guest spots from Jason Roeder and Josh Graham, is centred very much around his deep, time-worn vocal performance and semi-acoustic guitar, with only a smattering of atmospheric touches and odd incision of other instruments popping up every now and then. There is no drumbeat here, just Kelly’s internal sense of pacing, which unsurprisingly varies from a wary snake-like slither to a laid-back, metronome-munching, elephantine slog through the undergrowth.

His weary West Coast drawl and desert-dry croak chew around “A Spirit Redeemed To The Sun” as rapidly we re-acclimatise ourselves to the way he feels around each note very deliberately. It’s one of the few brighter, more uplifting moments in what is essentially a pretty intense and downbeat album. The messages come pouring thick and fast from the guts of the man; here, he is a burst piñata of emotions. “I washed the blood from my hands / I’ve forgiven myself in my soul” leads to “In a field of death, screaming at the wind / My desires reach and hold me” for the oppressively painful crawl of “The Forgiven Ghost In Me”. By the time Landis’ gurgling dirge melts into the dark tones of “Within It Blood”, Kelly is conjuring images of “ravens” drowning and “demons” being brought on to the stage.

We are soon eagerly cutting ourselves on “the blade of the Reaper” as he submerges us in the album highlight “We Let The Hell Come”; a track that stirs the blood as he stretches his vocal. It is all polished off eloquently with the simplest yet most powerful of riffs. Keep an ear out, too, for the colour-soaked and spine-tingling “The Fields That Surround Me”. Roeder’s subdued drums and buoyant cymbal sweeps kick-start a slow build through to brusque synth and guitar fills. “The watcher watching me”… creepy.

With The Forgiven Ghost In Me, Scott Kelly takes us on yet another dark, brittle, and emotional journey. Hearing him slowly running through his personal neuroses, one by one, past the all-seeing-eye of , is a strange, immersive experience. The strange tones and textures, those that initally seemed so impenetrative, then so lacklustre, can quickly become all too familiar and, in turns, magically accessible, so that by the album’s end (and this is for those with an open mind) he has absorbed you, purged his and your mind and, in the process, begun the cleansing process.

Also online (with album preview) @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/scott-kelly-and-the-road-home-the-forgiven-ghost-in-me
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