The Kelele Brothers' debut, Escape From Bover County, represents the most charming and magical side of music in that it is clearly a group of talented musicians exploring any and every whim for the sake of fun and nothing more. In this case, the group is Canadian singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith (um, rather: El Rondo) and his touring band in disguise. Recorded with a single stereo microphone onto mini-disc in various hotel rooms (even a track recorded in the van en route to their next destination) while on tour opening for Lucinda Williams in September 2001, about half the album is comprised of originals and half comprised of some interesting cover choices. The originals come not from Sexsmith but from lap steel guitarist Tim Bovaconti (the Bover), cellist/drummer Don Kerr (Don Kelele), and bassist Maury LaFoy (Mo Fuss La Fun). The Bover contributes both the sunny and cheerful instrumental "Timmy's Lei" as well as the lilting "Candice" while Don Kelele and Mo Fuss La Fun each offer up a song apiece and teamed up to write what could be considered the band's theme, "Why Won't 'U' Kelele?," which is nothing short of amazing and hilarious. On top of these gems, the Kelele Brothers run through a series of covers, mostly from the classic country songbook, like the 1964 hit for George Jones "Where Does a Little Tear Come From," but the band also expertly tackles classic R&B with "The Joker (That's What They Call Me)" as well as Spanish pop with a gorgeous version of "Eres Tu," a song Spain's Mocedades had a minor hit with in 1973. Since Escape From Bover County captures a band of friends without pretense as they travel, it is the rare kind of record which upholds true spirit and purity of music for music's sake: spontaneous, fun, and lost in emotion.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Gregory McIntosh