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The hard-to-stay-aWake - 5%

caspian, October 9th, 2016

This kind of music is pretty commonly written, it's just seldom released. I very much doubt I'm the only dude who's had a bad breakup, a horrible hangover and croaked out a few depressing half improvised songs on a barely tuned acoustic. It rarely goes beyond that though- at worst you tab an idea or two, then come back a few days later and get very glad you never tried singing it to your ex over the phone while you were in your depressed state.

Well, unfortunately for us, Kelly actually compiled a whole album of the stuff, and it's as bad as you'd expect. A 2 pack a day dude groaning over some nothing-ish acoustic stuff, for thirty four minutes, with nothing in the way of dynamics, memorable guitar lines, memorable vocals, anything to make the time pass quicker. It's hard to describe the music much more, because that's all there is.

Kelly has demonstrated through Neurosis that he can write a cracking song when he's so inclined, but there's nothing to be found here that suggests that and compared to Von TIll's vastly superior solo output, you gotta wonder who the main brains behind that band is. It's minimalism is the problem; there's enough good "one guy and one guitar" music out there to suggest it can be done, but it's generally done by better singers or better guitarists, and with Kelly's limited vocals, limited song writing and even more limited guitar playing it doesn't happen.

It'd do well to have some extra instrumentation. Unfortunately for us, Kelly's answer to that is the middle finger and a few snatches of nothing-ish electric guitar.

Let me finish it by saying that Catholic Blood's intro kinda sounds like Lightning Crashes by Live, and I actually got excited thinking it was a cover of that song. That's how bad this is.

The Wake - 98%

EmperialWrath, June 23rd, 2008

The man who brought us Neurosis and Tribes of Neurot is back with his sophomore solo album. I’m not the biggest fan of American folk music, but once in a while I stumble upon albums that really blow me away. Most recently, the last two Richard Thompson albums, namely, Sweet Warrior and the soundtrack to the Werner Herzog documentary Grizzly Man.

Scott Kelly has an extremely coarse voice and when put in context with the backing of a single acoustic guitar, is enough to make the sunniest of days turn into a tornado of depression. It’s in this simplicity that the beauty of this album lies. I’m a huge fan of westerns and The Wake represents to me the desolate western desert plains and the long days in the sun playing guitar and watching the wind blow.

The man sings with a lot of conviction, experience and exemplifies hard earned wisdom. When he says “I’ll walk through fire… for you…” the first words uttered on the album opener "The Ladder in My Blood", you know that he’ll do it, if it came to that.

That being said, this is not the most accessible folk album (for those who are thinking about taking this album on their next campfire trip along with your worthless-piece-of-shit Givson acoustic guitars), considering the coarseness of Kelly’s voice and the bleak, melancholic nature of the lyrics. The album has a running time of approx. 34 mins - just long enough to not remind you of the insignificance of your life’s endeavors and your inevitable erasure from existence.