Doug Keith

Pony

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Pony, the third album from New York-based singer/songwriter Doug Keith, continues to explore the warm indie roots pop sound he introduced with his 2009 debut, Here's to Outliving Me. The versatile musician who spent much of his adult life playing in punk and experimental bands has matured gracefully into creating the kind of dusky, emotionally resonant songs befitting a journeyman artist with roots all over the country. Born in the Midwest and raised in the East with later stints on the West Coast, Keith admits that there are unintended themes of searching and geographical dislocation in this batch of songs. The day-driving, open-road feeling is immediately apparent on the two acoustic-led album openers, "Harvest Home" and "I Will Burn for You," which eat up the miles with distorted guitars, synths, and strong backing tracks from members of North Carolina's Megafaun. It's a theme that continues throughout the album, which often veers into a less world-weary Wilco territory blending wistful midtempo acoustic tracks with unusual synth leads and avant noises. There's often a tendency to place heartfelt singer/songwriter albums with acoustic leanings into the Americana camp, but Pony owes as much to '80s-era R.E.M., the Minus 5, and other such pop-minded college rock acts as it does to acoustic roots folk. The pulsing and moody "Pure Gold in the 70's" is a rich, synth-led anthem with a raging guest-spot guitar solo from J Mascis and "The Weather's Fucking Awful" is a buoyant slice of summer pop full of joyful experimentation and spontaneity. With these nine songs, Keith has managed to blend together his myriad influences, creating something that is emotionally mature, honest, and comfortable while still pushing his own creative boundaries.

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