Shane Klein takes his unique combination of folk and psychedelic rock solo on Music for Dying Animals. While Klein has made a name for himself in his improvisational type one-man shows in parts of California, the album is an interesting adventure into something you do not hear everyday.
“Aurelia” starts the album off with an other worldly feel, not my favorite song from the album but an interesting arrangement of psychedelic and an almost over-synthesized feel. I did like the fact that this was an unexpected start to the album.
“The Deceiver” was much more of a folk tune with a gentle pace and soothing vocals. This song would easily showcase Klein's desire to play live and also improvise. I enjoyed the natural pace of the song and the escape from the jarring instrumental focus of the first tune. To my surprise “The Song” actually combined the two styles from the previous songs into a package I found inventive. There was just enough of the synthesizer to feel psychedelic with the folk level storytelling keeping it interesting.
The two highlights on the album were “The Bodega” and “Hair of the Dog.” The lyrics were rich enough to get the story across while again challenging the listener with yet another set of unexpected arrangements. “Keep” was also a great song, ready for a smokey roadhouse scene in a film I suspect.
Klein has a style that is unique and I would be interested in seeing just how much more creative he gets in a live show where he is in his element and able to improvise. He has a fun twist of a classic ’60s feel with almost a slight tinge of grunge or a Seattle feel but also a folk nod. He does not seem to be held back by staying true to one style, instead he does what sounds best for the mood of the song.
The album was the product of a set of sketches Klein collected over the course of a year and you can almost feel each snapshot in time so to speak. It is an interesting mix of songs that on one side don't always blend easily together but that also seems to fit the artist precisely. He isn't about fitting in but instead following a path he is discovering as he goes.
The idea that each song started not as a set of music or even lyrics but instead a set of sketches really got me thinking about how unusual this truly was. I enjoyed a random mix of songs that if you pay close enough attention doesn't feel so random. The songs themselves at times almost become the background music to my own visuals of what perhaps the artist had seen in those sketches.
I enjoyed the lyrics and found the vocals to be soothing and almost familiar but not quite. The rich guitar added to my interest of the album as well as paying tribute to the artist's folk roots. Recommended.
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