Kieran McGee


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With Anonymous, his third disc, Kieran McGee shakes off the teen prodigy shackles and steps up as a fully realized artist. Though he's captured on the cover still looking very much like the skinny 15 year old who wowed the No Depression crowd with his 1997 release Left for Dead, a close listen yields a lesson in alt-country progression; in McGee's case it's in a Rolling Stones-the Band direction. Musical leaps like "Odessa" and "Quiet" are notable for their languid bite, and more than one track shiftily calls to mind Jerry Garcia in his banjo-picking, Old and in the Way incarnation. Wilco and Ryan Adams also might have been spinning in McGee's CD changer -- or at least in his head -- as he entered the studio. Inspired songwriting (sample lyric: "Hope is a hungry game we play/We lose it every time that we wish for something we can't have") and bump-free vocals aside, though, McGee can't claim sole credit for the unassailably done-right sound of Anonymous. Helping on songs throughout the 13-song disc are Ollabelle's Amy Helm; her father, the legendary Levon Helm; and Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley.

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