Love at first listen. Heart-wrenching, longing, sadness. These words do not even begin to describe Reckless Kelly's new album, "Long Night Moon." From the first notes of the title track to the last "Idaho," listeners will be spellbound. The common theme running through this record is that of traveling, lost love, and perhaps a bit of weariness on a traveling musician.
Many artists who have been on the scene as long as Reckless Kelly tend to make the same record over and over again. Not the case here. Every album RK releases has a unique sound, none sounding like the others. This album is a study in subtlety, much more so than their previous records. Reckless Kelly is David Abeyta (lead guitars), Cody Braun (fiddle, mandolin, guitars, vocals), Willy Braun (lead vocals, guitars, harmonica), Joe Miller (bass, bass guitar), and Jay Nazz (drums). The instruments are a little more toned down from previous albums, letting lead singer/songwriter Willy Braun's warm, rich vocal shine through.
The album's title track "Long Night Moon" is a lush yet agonizing ballad sung with such conviction, it takes the listener on a trip to another world. "...And I wonder why I keep torturing my soul beneath this urban sky...but in my mind I know I'll be home soon...surrounded by the Winter....beneath the long night moon..." With such a stunning opening song, a person wonders how the rest of the album can be any better, but every song here is a gem.
"Real Cool Hand," Every Step Of The Way," and "I Can't Stand It" are mid to up tempo rockers, having the classic Reckless sound. "Every Step Of The Way" snarls its way through almost 4 minutes of hard-driving guitars and harmonica. "The Girl I Knew" is a gorgeous mid-tempo shuffle that I have on repeat and has hit single written all over it, "Well I don't talk much to strangers...'cause there's no good news anymore...But you sure seemed glad to see me when you knocked on my front door..." Addictive lyrics and a bouncy chorus I can't get out of my head.
The ballads take center stage on "Long Night Moon," every one leaving a person to wonder how music can be this breathtaking and heartbreaking at the same time. Each song paints a vivid picture of crumbling relationships, saying goodbye, and an ode to the beautiful state of Idaho and home.
"Irish Goodbye" is a lovely, meandering tune that takes the listener to the Emerald Isle with a torturing sadness, "...Don't say goodnight, just turn out the lights...Irish goodbye..." This may be RK's saddest song to date but also one of their finest.
"The Last Goodbye" is the lead off single from the album and it's a moody, bitter tune about letting go again, after several goodbyes. Willy Braun's vocal is almost haunting at times as the song rolls along, a weariness, "...The last goodbye really had me going...pulling my strings all the while knowing...you weren't leaving anytime soon...The last goodbye really had me running hot...You turned me into something I was not...You were determined to make me your fool..." The song is currently climbing the Texas Music Chart and I predict a #1.
Never a band to shy away from social and political issues, "Be My Friend (In Real Life)" is an anti-social media anthem that many of us could take advice from. In this technologically-advanced age where most of us communicate in every manner except the telephone and handwritten letters, the singer is simply saying, "...Put down your devices and live your life...Won't you be my friend in real life..." A strong message driven home with a foreboding drumbeat.
"Didn't Mean To Break Your Heart" is the most exquisite song in the collection. The play on words is impressive, short, and sweet. Metaphors abound on this song, the engaging lyrics dance around the harmonica and fiddle. The instruments accompany the vocal perfectly, never overpowering the sublime delivery of the lyrics.
No RK album is complete without a few road songs, which also happens to be one of my favorite subjects. "The Only Home I've Ever Known" is a delightful fiddle-driven shuffle. I can't say enough about the lyrics found on LMN, every song was written by Willy Braun; the songwriting becomes more brilliant with every album. "...Surrounded by my fears and tortured by the miles...Drowned out by the cheers and all those empty highs..." This is an exceptional song about a road-weary musician, another highlight on LMN.
A short but lovely instrumental reprise of the title track preludes into the album's closer, "Idaho." It is the most splendid song I have ever heard dedicated to a state and a place where the Braun brothers hail from. It is simply beautiful, like the state itself. The song isn't just a nod to a home state, it's about being home, around the things and people you love, a feeling of being content. We always leave home but there's a piece of it we keep in our hearts, no matter where we roam.
I highly recommend buying the physical CD. Not only are lyrics included, but a fun, celestial game with a little light is included and it glows in the dark. This is something RK has been doing for awhile with their albums. Downloading provides instant gratification but possessing the actual CD is a lot more satisfying in the long run.
On September 3rd, find yourself running to the closest record store to buy the best album of the year. This is what real music sounds like.