So how do I really feel?
I've been listening to Admiral Fell Promises all weekend. We moved into our new place in South Philly on Friday afternoon and woke up to pounding rain, a dripping ceiling, and flooded patio space on Saturday morning. Not that I really noticed the chaos-- with this album on I felt completely tranquil, drifting, dreamy, placid.
This album is not like other Mark Kozelek albums. I had a hard time getting used to April (Kozelek's previous album)-- I would listen to "Lost Verses" (my favorite song oƒ all time) but couldn't get into the dark sadness of many of the songs until winter hit. Admiral Fell Promises is more neutral. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's more lyrically hopeful, but the music is brighter, more summer-y. This has a lot to do with the minimalism of the production-- the entire album is just Kozelek and a guitar. His strumming is lighter than on previous albums. After listening to all of that clunky Red House Painters stuff, this album is absolutely elegant. There is nothing rock and roll about Admiral Fell Promises-- the tone on much of the album is minstrel-like as the long songs sometimes fade into each other, almost indistinguishable from each other. If you're looking for something quiet, something relaxing, something low-key but still stimulatingly complex, this album will fit the bill.
You can stream the whole album here.
Probably my favorite tracks from the album:
From the more articulate peanut gallery:
"Regardless of how it's credited, Admiral Fell Promises treats music as a retreat, allowing Kozelek to stand apart form the world and nurse his own disappointments. That safe haven, even more than his descriptive songwriting or eloquently downcast vocals, is crucial to his appeal, allowing the listener to slip into his perspectives, to see these vistas through his eyes, and to feel the ache of his regrets. For an artist who's notoriously difficult to pin down, that sense of refuge is remarkable, as is the fact that two decades into his career, Kozelek is still finding new inspirations."
"...Not only do his lyrics sound like the words of a man pondering his darker moments, but his solitary guitar further underscores that loneliness. That guitar work, though, is where Kozelek truly shines; his subtle plucking ripples beneath the vocals, flirting with his melodies as they create trancelike seances that stretch for the length of his compositions.
Even as Koz himself sounds bleak, his guitar work carries an entrancing energy. "Third and Seneca" finds Kozelek reminiscing about his travels — Oregon, Seattle, Denver and so on — his voice capturing hazy snippets of his journey. He conveys a roadweariness and homesickness that's universally felt and understood. At the same time, his lilting guitar melodies don't sound nearly so desperate; their cascading repetition evokes the feeling of daydreaming while looking out the window at passing landscapes. It's an unusual — and unspoken — juxtaposition, as he blends the buoyancy of his instrumentation with the isolation of his lyrics."