Review of Below The Branches Album by Kelly Stoltz

Kelley Stoltz
Below The Branches
(Sub Pop 06/02/06)

Kelly Stoltz Below The Branches Album

The San Franciscan tunesmith; Kelley Stoltz utilises his thought provoking and polished style to build up emotion and passion, with an underpinning of bolstering blues to follow upon on his earthy previous album 'Antique Glow'. The commanding and brisk vocal touch that brings to mind Ian McCulloch and Steve Harley in their prime, stands out early on in the laid back, yet troubled ballad; 'Little Lords'. The upbeat pop side of Kelly gushes out in the heart warming and slow building; 'Ever Thought of Coming Back' whereby, he is impelled by the courage of his convictions to give off a stoic vibe.

A wistful feel hangs over proceeding like February fog, often manifesting itself via slow and slightly eerie acoustic guitars as well as a wispy, almost Stuart Murdoch vocal range propelled via; 'Words'. Before you start worrying, it is not a Bee Gees cover, although it does contain that touch of tenderness associated with them.

Stoltz is quite resplendent in his musical philosophising that centres on the theme of noticing the world outside you, as 'The Sun Comes Through' aptly illuminates. The broad talent of this artist is uncovered with the utilisation of a variety of self-played instruments including a toy xylophone. A one man The Beatles offering 'Winter Girl' keeps the album colourfully ticking along nicely towards the end, ensuring that the attention of the listener never wonders away from his compelling melodies.

David Adair

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Kelley Stoltz
Below The Branches
Album Review 2


Back when bands had the freedom to put out seemingly loose sessions, like Let It Be, there was real reward in those musical moments. Kelly Stoltz has been quietly developing a musical style that falls somewhere between Jeff Lynne's ELO, Paul McCartney's Wings and the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds - an intensely rich pop vein - while sounding as fresh and loose (and rock) as Beck or Sparklehorse at their best.

Seriously, if you have missed the musical time around The White Album and Pet Sounds, find Below The Branches immediately and let it seep in over a couple of listens. With the cheeky punch of 10CC and yet some nods to the sound of artists like Lou Barlow and Jeff Buckley, this is an immensely varied album that hits all the bases, sometimes even in one song.

If there is a criticism, it is that it occasionally sounds almost too classic - there are times when you will believe you've uncovered a lost Beach Boys or Beatles gem - but if that's the worst that can be said, this is some special album.

Rating 9/10

Mike Rea


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