Gabriel Klute essentially penned a love letter to his home of Portland, OR in Love Songs About Cars and Women. This short set of four songs packs a loving tribute to a city many locals will enjoy sharing. Each song has some easy to recognized local sites and will bring locals to a familiar place or far off natives back as well.
While the musical arrangements are interesting, the true gem of this album is the vocal talents of Klute. His range alone is noteworthy, as is his ability to sing a variety of styles as well. The four songs of this set give the listener just enough of a tease to want to hear more from this talented artist. He is a great example of the local Portland music scene with a bit of granola folk mixed into everything. The down side to his focus on Portland is that he may not attract a wider following. You either love the Portland vibe or find it a little too hipster, it doesn't seem like there is much in the middle.
“Oregon Plates” is a free flowing tribute to both a brown-eyed girl and the drive to come back to Portland with a nod to some well known landmarks. The idea that when you are missing someone even little things like a state plate on a car reminds you of them was something most people could understand. This song seemed to be something that could easily be heard on a rainy day in a coffee shop somewhere in Oregon. The vocals were pretty amazing on this track, and nicely complemented by both the guitar and spots where it was just Klute singing.
“Where Have You Been All My Life” was a change from the faster pace of the previous song and a lovely ballad. This was even a better showcase for the raw vocal talents of Klute. I liked this arrangement because it stripped most of the music away so the listener could really hear and feel the vocals. If you were only able to hear one song from this set live, this would be the one. The vocals are gentle, organic and very heartfelt. “Heartbreak in Overdrive” was an almost startling change from the prior song and much more of a rock type anthem. Of the four songs this was my least favorite; it seemed a bit forced. Klute's vocals were spot on though, so it was enjoyable.
The perfect way to end this set came in the form of “Driving.” Many of us can identify with the idea that some of your clearest thinking happens on late nights on an empty road alone. I enjoyed the four Portland theme songs and also liked the underlying car theme. I can still picture Klute flying down I-84 thinking about getting a motorcycle to ditch the memories of a car that goes too fast without his co-pilot next to him.
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