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Scott Kelly - The Wake [Neurot Recordings - 2208]

Scott Kelly is most widely known as a vocalist and guitarist for Neurosis. Last year I reviewed an album by his band mate, Steve Von Till called A Grave is a Grim Horse, which was a mellow album very much along the lines of Mark Lanegan's solo material. Von Till applied enough of his own personality to succeed, by staking his own ground. It seems Scott Kelly has been drinking from the same trough, though he seems reluctant to emerge from his shell. This album owes a hardy thanks to the ex-Screaming Trees frontman as well, and a stiff handshake to Tom Waits. A couple of decent precursors for sure, but it's not evident that Kelly has the passion to compel.

He's got the whiskey soaked baritone mastered (right down to Lanegan's affectations), but unfortunately his songs are not engaging enough to make this album's short length easy to tolerate. The songs are spare, consisting only of acoustic guitar backing, with the only exception being the occasional addition of some slide guitar. Kelly's a fine guitar player, and his finger picking is performed impeccably, but the problem with the Wake is evident from the outset; these songs sound like unfinished home demos. Listening to this album a few times only underscores the issue; Kelly's vocal approach is so indebted to his mentors that he comes off as emotionally detached from the material. The far from ground breaking, frankly boring songwriting doesn't help matters.

There's a real attempt to create a heart-breaking atmosphere with relentlessly downbeat lyrics and snail's pace accompaniment. The concept might work out for Kelly if he comes armed with a fist full of decent songs, and a bit more inspiration the next time around.

Rating: 1 out of 5Rating: 1 out of 5Rating: 1 out of 5Rating: 1 out of 5Rating: 1 out of 5

Erwin Michelfelder
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