Jeff Kelly

Melancholy Sun

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

Melancholy Sun Review

by Richie Unterberger

This four-CD box set devotes one disc apiece to four Kelly solo albums that originally came out on cassette only: Coffee in Nepal (1987), Portugal (1990), Private Electrical Storm (1992), and The Rosary and the House of Jade (1997). Actually, Coffee in Nepal did come out on LP on DiDi Music in 1992, but otherwise this marks the first reasonably wide availability of all of this music. The Rosary and the House of Jade was hardly even available in theory, as it originally appeared on a cassette that Kelly made just 50 copies of, to give away to friends. It might seem like an off-the-wall proposition to do a box set for such an obscure indie-rock singer-songwriter. But in truth Kelly has always deserved much greater exposure than he's gotten in the past. This box, as hard as it might be to find outside of specialist retailers and mail-order outfits, does a great deal to fix that situation. It might seem like an expensive risk if you've only heard a little of Kelly, but be assured that if you like any of his solo material, there's much to like on any of his solo albums. Coffee in Nepal and Portugal, the earliest recordings here, are also the sparsest and most lo-fi, which is not a hindrance as the songs are so tuneful, the lyrics searchingly poignant, and Kelly's worn voice quite suited to the emotions of the compositions. Private Electrical Storm gets into slicker and fuller arrangements on similar material, with mixed results; The Rosary and the House of Jade, a loosely structured concept album about an affair with a British spy, is better at integrating more instruments and higher production values. Throughout Kelly's songs boast seductive sad melodies and ambiguous, allusive lyrics that reward intense listening. Both Portugal and Private Electrical Storm have two additional bonus tracks not on the original cassette versions.

blue highlight denotes track pick