Chris Connelly

Private Education

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AllMusic Review by

Private Education is nearly Chris Connelly's ultimate do-it-yourself statement. While old friends do pop up to provide engineering help and occasional background vocals, the album is Connelly's baby from head to toe. His acrobatic, high yet growling croon is set against his own plaintive, evenly strummed acoustic guitar. Slow lo-fi beats and distant electronic effects are the only other accompaniment. Though he's been compared again and again to David Bowie and Scott Walker, Connelly has always flown his own flag. His voice might have similar peaks and valleys to those orchestral pop gods, but calling Connelly an imitator in any way would never be right. The Bowie comparison is becoming particularly hard to justify, as Connelly strips his music of glam and industrial pomp more and more with each new album. Where Bowie strives to reclaim past glories by seeking out old and new collaborators, Connelly's muse is internal and unequivocally subtle. He's showcasing the complexities of his voice and its emotional delivery on highlights like the soaring, pained "Harbour Days"; the moody, echoing lounge number "Samaratin"; and the rich mandolin-adorned "About the Beauty of Laura." The album burns so slowly that Connelly's voice can't help but move to the forefront and shine with expressive, impressive artistry. Private Education proves once again that Chris Connelly is a remarkably gifted songwriter, while showcasing his incredible vocal skills and range as well as any album in his career as a solo artist or collaborator.

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