Before Songs for a Blue Guitar could appear, the Red House Painters' singer/songwriter/guitarist Mark Kozelek had to leave his old label 4AD (allegedly over a Kozelek solo album 4AD rejected), split up the band, and find a new home for his music on Supreme Recordings. Fortunately for Kozelek and his audience, it's worth all the tumult. This is the solo album Kozelek wanted to make masquerading as the Red House Painters album; no other Painters are listed in the liner notes. The benefits that resulted from his freedom from the group setting are evident on Songs for a Blue Guitar. The album compiles a diverse group of styles, including gently hypnotic folk in "Have You Forgotten" and "Trailways," and country-rock, both slow ("Song for a Blue Guitar") and fast ("Make Like Paper"), as well as a various selection of covers. Mixed with Kozelek's traditionally beautiful and sad material, Yes' "Long Distance Runaround," Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs," and the Cars' "All Mixed Up" bring light to the Red House Painters' typically shadowy songs. The deep beauty and eclecticism on Songs for a Blue Guitar make it another artistic triumph for the Red House Painters.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares