Ruston Kelly doesn't stick in any one spot on Dying Star, his debut album. Perhaps Ryan Adams is his lodestar -- "Mockingbird" doesn't merely sound like something straight off of Heartbreaker, it contains a knowing nod to former Adams paramour Parker Posey -- but Kelly isn't a po-faced Americana singer/songwriter who is consumed with authenticity. "Son of a Highway Daughter" finds him harmonizing with a vocoder-ized version of himself, "Anchors" is accentuated with keyboards and steel guitar that veer toward the psychedelic, and "Dying Star" borrows from classic soul rhythms. These flourishes, along with Kelly's sharply honed wit, keep the otherwise moody and slow Dying Star from seeming somnolent, and they're enough to help steer attention away from the album's appealing nocturnal sheen and to the songcraft, which is sturdy and enduring.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine