No one said going solo was easy, especially when everybody tries to make it as difficult as possible for you. After a tumultuous history of label hand-wringing and multiplying, bereaved fans, Red House Painters' singer/songwriter Mark Kozelek finally released a debut solo album both of his own name and of his own songs. Well, that's true just as long you ignore the AC/DC and John Denver covers. Kozelek's wonderfully morose, acoustic debut is not technically his first (the Kozelek-only Songs for a Blue Guitar was still released under the Red House Painters name), yet he seems to ignore such unintentional pre-planning and paints the world of rustic, Nick Drake canvases with an auteur's brush. Songs like "Metropol 47" or "Find Me, Ruben Olivares" (written for the indefinitely stalled Painters album, Old Ramon) are mumbling, marvelously inconspicuous tales of loss. The AC/DC and John Denver covers also shine with sympathetic eccentricity, both sounding nothing like and exactly like their original versions. Which consistently brands Rock N' Roll Singer as an unexpected pleasure. While a fully fledged personal debut has yet to come down the pipe, this is a tremendous beginning for a solo musician. If only his enemies would accept it.
AllMusic Review by Dean Carlson