Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dave Kellan - Truth of the Matter

Dave Kellan is one of the most talented musicians in the Mid-Michigan scene today. That's right. Forget all the rest. GIMME KELLAN.
For Kellan his talent seems a birth right. Undeniable as a breath of fresh air. He is a guitarist blessed with such precision, such concise phrasing and such an astounding range of expression that he ranks with the area's best guitar slingers. Move over Wagner and McCray and make some room for Kellan...our future depends on it. In a time when new artists are intentionally bland and disposable - a variation of planned obsolescence - Kellan offers something substantial and enduring. By GOD I hope talent will prevail. But I must admit it's much cheaper for the suits to squeeze a coupla hits from a formulaic no-name forgettable and call it good. No back catalog or messy royalty scams.
And the public be damned.
They are too STOOOPID to know any better anyway.
You may remember that Kellan became WIOG's Mid-Michigam Idol last year and rocked everyone to the bone at the WONDERJAM.
Uncle Kracker tried but he couldn't do it....
doesn't have the gris gris
I'm hoping that Kellan transforms this opportunity to pure gold to prove (to me anyway) that talent still has a place on the hit parade. I NEED Kellan to restore my faith in what is good and pure. If Kellan succeeds I might be able to TRUST that the American public has some capacity to embrace more than their own reflection. "truth of the matter" is Dave Kellan's third release.
And it's his BEST
Just as his debut with Gutbucket Blues Band layed the foundation and "Open Up" expanded his vision, Kellan's point of view matured with "A Matter of Trust". It's a new "voice"...of someone who is beginning to learn the game. A man who is on the precipice of KNOWING and on the cusp of "radical acceptance". Things as they appear to be but truth is as relative as looking at purple but seeing fuchsia.

The disc opens with the title track truth of the matter
It has a cool-jazz vibe with a wondrous and melodic saxophone riff (courtesy of Jim Rosborough)that creates has a rich melancholy landscape of ambient tones that underscore Kellan's soulful vocal. Matt Cohn slight-of-hand keyboard notations are some kinda tasty. And Kellan's powerful screaming guitar punctuates the anger and longing in the song. Is he better off alone?

Tranquility is anything but. A straight out funky "protest" rocker with plenty of attitude. It has a great hook - with Kellan singing in unison with the guitar riff. Very NICE. He sings,
"Come and go as you please, don't disrespect me". He asks rhetorically,
"Will there ever be a chance...for tranquility"?
Kellan's ambivalence is convincing

Kellan performs a trinity of solo acoustic songs in this set...
Golden Rule, Them Applesand Talk About the Weather

Thematically similar and metaphorically satisfying, these songs are beautifully crafted and executed with humble aplomb. Simple and unadorned, these tunes reveal Kellan's skill in creating songs of stark majesty. And there's some mighty fine pickin' as Kellan proves to be every bit as fluid on acoustic guitar as when he is electrified. "Talk About the Weather" is just Dave and his acoustic....singin' about a broken heart...suffering
"I'm, beggin' darlin please"
"I'm on my knees"
"So lets talk about the weather"
"nothin' left to say...
But I need you"

Sun Shinin' is a blues/gospel anthem. One of the discs many highlights

"If you ask me to do it all over again"
"I would"
"In the greenfields I'd raise my weary head"
"In the greenness I'd make my eternal bed"
"I'll live my life where the sun is shining"

This is an old fashioned spiritual - a song of triumph and redemption.

Kellan and the band shine on the mid-tempo rocker Rainy Day

It combines a tight & mighty rhythm section with moody organ and Kellan's increasingly gymnastic vocals and a fiery McCray-esque blues/rock guitar solo.

Silky Gravy is cool jazz at it's best.
Move over Stan Getz.
Jim Rosborough's magnificent jumpy saxophone riff fuels the vibe. Kellan's intricate finger perfect notations create an aural landscape that draws the listener "inside" the music. This is a superb and compelling side to the band's arsenal of chops. And Kellan doesn't play it straight...he can barely contain his joy in creation as he segues to an electrical romp that pounds ya right in the chest before he brings it back down to the "silk".

High Tides is a jazz rocker that has the vocals pushed back in the mix, allowing the music to dominate and make the statement. It's about relationships - making choices....tough choices.
Can we ever be sure?

You Are is a mantra of discovery. Kellan's scratchy straining vocal captures the zenist vibe of the song. Kellan is outside his pain and in the awareness of the moment he is observing the feelings and thoughts that flow through him. And he is knowing
"You are....
hardly yourself"
And in that very moment he is talking about the other AND himself at the same time.

I Still Care has a simple piano based melody and a Lennon-esque vocal circa 1970/71 during his Plastic Ono Band/Imagine phase. The mellow vibe and sweet vocal masks the heartache in the lyric...
"I've been waiting"
"no more words to say...anyway"
"Why must I be.."
"in your distant memory?"
"I don't Know"
"I don't know"


Around You seems to be a written form of parallel process. A dual message to an unenlightened, unknowing public - mass popularity is so elusive - and a "heads up" to a friend in trouble.
"You better stop & look around
check out the sights and sounds around you"
"Look in my eyes I can see your disguise"
"and I wonder why"

The CD ends with an uncredited instrumental... just Dave and his trusty acoustic. It's a joyful syncopated release of frustration. And one helluva workout - a wordless statement made more provocative by it's economy and tension.

Kellan's third album is an inspired effort. Like any great piece of music, "The Truth Of The Matter" possesses the unique vision of the author and is not encumbered by trendiness or an eye on what sells on the "hit parade". This may not translate into massive sales but it does suggest a more enduring legacy. REAL music masterfully conceived and crafted that avoids the musical sophistry that now pollutes the airwaves.
Music-lite masquerading as relevance and appealing to the disposable notions of a youth culture deconstructed to ensure conformity and encourage a mass ADHD-like consciousnes that values the very impulsiveness and distractabilty that creates the "bland inconsequence" of modern music.

But Kellan does not fall for it. And he never co-opts his unique voice and vision for a readily definable bag or label. You can call Kellan's music whatever you like...blues, jazz, rock, folk. But ultimately it is so pure and authentic that it's "just what it is".

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