Exposé Online banner

Jeff Kelly — Beneath the Stars, Above the River
(Green Monkey GM1053, 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

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Pere Ubu - Dub Housing – I recall when I first heard this LP, I was honestly paralyzed by the discordant synthesizer which underpinned a Velvet Underground groove on the first track. There was vocalist David Thomas and his...  (2000) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues