Exposé Online banner

Jeff Kelly — Beneath the Stars, Above the River
(Green Monkey GMR, 2019, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2019-05-14

Beneath the Stars, Above the River Cover art

Those who know Jeff Kelly only from his work in The Green Pajamas might be a little surprised hearing Beneath the Stars, Above the River. His distinctive voice and a tinge of psychedelia remain, but the setting is rather different. It is in line with his previous solo releases, being less rock-oriented and with a marked fondness for waltz-time rhythms. Acoustic guitar is the dominant instrument, with splashes of keyboards, percussion, and the occasional electric guitar. A drum kit is generally not in the mix. The many references to Europe (“Moon over Granada,” “The Lisbon Vampire,” and “Alleys of Madrid” among song titles, along with numerous times in the lyrics) are reinforced right off the bat by the accordion on the opening track, with a feeling that evokes Spain in the minor-key guitar parts. Several of the songs slip into Spanish for the lyrics, giving the album the impression that they’re based on the notebooks of a lonely expatriate American wandering the Iberian peninsula remembering past loves. Such a sense of place is typical in Kelly’s writing, though this European focus is in marked contrast with the Northwestern Americana of the last Pajamas album, Phantom Lake. A couple of the songs here wouldn’t sound out of place on a band record, but much of it is very personal, presenting a highly skilled example of one multi-instrumentalist putting things together and knowing when to stop before it’s overdone. This sense of restraint serves him well, highlighting the intimacy of the songwriting without sounding sleepy or self-indulgent. Beneath the Stars, Above the River is a slightly different kind of animal than a Green Pajamas album, but has many of the same charms, and is the best of Kelly’s solo albums that I’ve heard.


Filed under: New releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): Jeff Kelly

More info
http://greenmonkeyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/beneath-the-stars-above-the-river

Latest news

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Terra Firma - Earthbound – Climbing out the morass of thrash bands and Pearl Jam clones ascends a new Seattle area group with its feet rooted in Terra Firma and its head in the cosmos. Forget your preconceived notions of space...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues