Mr. Husband - Plaid On Plaid

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2017-05-05

“Sincerely, your pal Kenny Husband ...but that’s MR. Husband to YOU!”

This is the manner in which Kenny Tompkins, the guy behind this (mini) album and the co-founder of “Yellow K” records introduces it on his Bandcamp page. Obviously he’s somebody with a good sense of humor, and a good sense of humor applied to music usually spells a good record. And indeed, it does here! Another thing is quite evident - Tompkins obviously had a lot of fun making this album. He usually does, because that applies to his previous home-made efforts under the name New God. Taking Kenny’s sense of humor, maybe that has something to do with the famous Brian Wilson’s quote about the music he’s trying to create as “teenage symphonies to god”. And Wilson is an obvious musical inspiration to Tompkins, among others.

But one thing in which Mr. Husband’s concept differs on this album from Brian Wilson’s is that he tries to keep the arrangements as “clear” and unburdened as possible (let there be no mistake, nothing wrong with BW arrangements, on the contrary!). Tompkins was obviously really relaxed when he made Plaid On Plaid and when you are relaxed about the music you’re to come up with, when you’re not overcomplicating things, you’re bound to end up with something good. Ambitious or not. As long as you’re not overthinking it. So Kenny, or Mr. Husband to me, came up with something quite joyful and very listenable because he kept it simple. Or more precisely, like one of those Michelin star cooks, he used simple ingredients to come up with a delightful dish - great melodies, great harmonies and no complicated twists and turns.

Not that Tompkins had much of a chance to make things complicated, even if he wanted to, since he recorded the whole album by himself in his one-bedroom apartment somewhere in Maryland. Still, you don’t get that squashed lo-fi sound that one-bedroom apartments usually produce just because the sound was given room to breathe. Listening to these songs you constantly get the feeling that sunshine was constantly shining through Kenny’s window(s) while he was recording this.

It would be hard to pick highlights from these tunes that collectively run barely over 21 minutes or so. They all are a pure joy to listen to. You could say it's a bit on the short side, but judging by the manner Mr. Husband presented the whole thing, it is quite probable this was his intention. But then, you can always play it again. It deserves it.

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