As a big fan of The Red House Painters, Mark Kozelek's band,
i was excited to learn that he was releasing a solo EP. The
man has a lovely voice, and his guitarwork is simple and yet
However, after listening to this many times i have come to
this conclusion: Kozelek needs a band to help him fulfill his
vision. I guess that i had not noticed this need so much when
he was surrounded by the rest of Red House Painters, but their
absence is sorely felt on this EP.
Not to say that the songs on this EP are bad, because they
are still a heck of a lot better than most of the swill i hear
out there. However, well, they are stark. Sparse. Minimal. Kozelek's
"i just woke up" voice and strummed guitar.
Except for the title track, Rock N' Roll Singer, which
is, coincidentally, a cover of an AC/DC song. RAWK! And indeed,
this song does rock hard. This is the only track that adds bass,
drums, and, well, that "full band sound" to what is otherwise
an acoustic folksinger-songwriter album. It is the only song
that really lives up to the potential of what Kozelek is capable
of. Is it that Kozelek has to raise his voice to be heard over
the drums? Is it that the full sound compliments his voice better?
Is it that Kozelek sings this song with such depth of emotion
that, for four and a half minutes, even somebody so musically
un-adept as myself really feels that overwhelming desire
I dunno, but there is something there. Some combination of
emotion and drums and electricity pumped through guitar pickups
that makes life perfect for just a little while. Wow.
Now, as to the rest of the EP. There are a total of seven songs.
Three are by Kozelek, three are by AC/DC, and one is by John
Denver. The bulk of the songs are standard "Kozelek muttering
almost Stipe-like barely above the sound of his acoustic guitar".
Personally i like his guitarwork and his voice. I find this
a pleasant album to listen to as i sit and drink my morning
However, i know some people who find his voice kind of grating.
I guess either you like it or you don't.
But that one song. Oh, that one song. I give this EP 4 sponges,
a better than average rating, for Rock N' Roll Singer
itself. The rest is just pleasant noise and a brief distraction,
while that one song is a glimpse of perfection.