Jeff Kelly

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Portugal Review

by Richie Unterberger

It's really a tie as to whether this or the previous Coffee in Nepal is Kelly's best release. They sound similar enough that they could have been recorded at the same sessions, although there was actually a substantial gap between the pair. This boasts the same fetching alternation between major and minor melodies that characterized the better folk-rock of the 1960s, pulled off in a personal, unself-conscious manner that doesn't beg unfavorable comparisons with vintage performers. The effective basic production -- emphasizing guitars and baroque touches of other folky instruments -- is a good illustration of the motto "less is more," a credo which was unfortunately pretty unfashionable in the indie and mainstream rock worlds when this was released. Issued on cassette only in 1990, it became available, with two previously unreleased bonus tracks, as one of four CDs in the 1999 box set Melancholy Sun. That box set also included a couple of other albums originally released only on cassette, and an otherwise unavailable 1997 album, The Rosary and the House of Jade.