Kevin House

Gutter Pastoral

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Light, ethereal, and sometimes quite charming, this album features Kevin House using various keyboards and backbeats to create a tender series of tracks which have a certain Beck quality to each other them. Whether or not it is the Casio-driven eeriness that greets the listener on "Stories Without Words," the muddled vocals and monotone-meets-spoken word delivery sounds like Lou Reed covering a song by the Handsome Family. "Twilight in the Wilderness" has folksy, singer/songwriter traits with House creating a subtle yet inviting mood thanks to the theremin in use. "Black Smoke Rising" doesn't quite have the same effect though and is a bare-bones Bruce Cockburn-ish tune with little sense of pizzazz. He compensates for it with the haunting "I Don't Believe in You," with a piano and trumpet heard in the jazz-tinted cover of the Talk Talk tune. This Cockburn influence is obvious on the delightful pop-folk of "Rise Up" with its soothing closing refrain. The dark thread though that makes this album work is found in the spooky, sparse, and hushed narrative "Waltzing With the Hellhound." Samantha Parton's accompanying harmonies are also quite special on this song. Unfortunately the vocoder-like vocals on "Down to the Wire" takes any precious quality out of the arrangement. The album's masterpiece is the delicious "Let Me Out," which doesn't reinvent anything but is one of the better folk songs you'll hear. The melancholic pop of "Disappearing Girl" is basically icing on the cake.

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