Jeff Kelly

For the Swan in the Hallway

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For the Swan in the Hallway won't offer much particularly surprising or new to those who've listened to other albums from the 1990s and early 2000s by the prolific Jeff Kelly. But any one of those records acts as a good door of entry to his quality, mature indie pop/rock, this album included. His high, inquisitive vocals are well-suited for the kind of edgy but pleasantly tuneful songs he likes to sing. While guitar rock of the late '60s and early '70s remains a frequent reference point, he does break up the mood with some synthetic drums, disquieting background Mellotron-like sounds, and creepy garage organ. Although the melodies are fairly sweet and certainly sweetly sung, there are constant threads of uncertainty and slight melancholia running through his work, like that of a guy for whom things are going okay, but who's nonetheless convinced that demons might creep up at any moment. He's also something of a romantic, which makes this oh so much easier to listen to than much post-punk indie gloom and doom, without sacrificing any of the tough questions being wrestled with. Lighter states of mind do emerge sometimes, like the fond homage to London's "Oxford Street," though the muted anguish and longing of "Afterimage" is a little more typical. In these types of remembrances of things past, Kelly continues to be a distant cousin of Ray Davies, albeit with less nostalgia and an appetite for integrating his past gains and losses into his struggles with the present.

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