Kelly Pardekooper

Brand New Bag

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This ten-song release from Kelly Pardekooper is a great album, mixing roots rock with plenty of passion and hooks, as is the case with the opening title track. Here the musician seems to fall somewhere between an adventurous but radio-friendly Wilco and the Dandy Warhols. The lone problem with the song is that it seems unfinished, leaving on a high note but making the listener feel somewhat shortchanged. However, the chugging and gorgeous "Mehaffey Bridge" is the type of song that's been done dozens of times before but rarely as strong as here, as Pardekooper pours himself into the track effortlessly. Meanwhile, "Crazy Girl" moves things down a few notches with a slow, ambling number that resembles Mark Knopfler jamming with Ry Cooder. Another keeper -- and there are plenty on this album -- is the tender, haunting "Last Call." But he improves on this Springsteen-circa-Nebraska feeling with the eerie "Sometimes." The lone soft spot on the record is the rather routine and run-of-the-mill barroom rocker "Someone Cries." In fact, the album seems to be split equally between these two styles, with another smooth, whispered approach on "Quiet Tonight" being the album's highlight. It is definitely one of the artist's best works, as is Brand New Bag overall.

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