Mark Kozelek - Mark Kozelek - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mark Kozelek - Mark Kozelek

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2018-05-11
Mark Kozelek self titled album
Mark Kozelek self titled album

From his seminal stint with the Red House Painters to his critically acclaimed work under the Sun Kil Moon moniker, Mark Kozelek has remained impressively prolific over the course of his career, releasing albums that have continuously pushed the boundary of traditional folk-rock.  And his intrepid tendencies continue with his latest self-titled solo record, an album that was recorded in various hotel rooms as a sort-of creative experiment.

While originally intended to be one of the two Sun Kil Moon releases planned for this year, Kozelek opted to for the ‘self-titled’ solo treatment at the eleventh hour, a decision which makes perfect sense considering Kozelek played every single note (save for a lone drum performance by long-time collaborator Steve Shelley) this time around.  

As has been the case with most of Kozelek’s recent work (including Sun Kill Moon’s 2014 release Benji), this self-titled effort highlight’s the singer’s penchant for half singing, half talking his way through stream-of-conscious lyrical content.  Perhaps the most notable difference here, however, is the stark contrast that is created by the juxtaposition of Kozelek’s wordy prose and the sparse instrumentation that accompanies it.

Over the course of Mark Kozelek’s eleven tracks, the singer recounts one first person narrative after another, relaying both minutiae, and depth with a potent mixture of literal directness and self-effacing sincerity.  The seven-minute-long album-opener “This Is My Town” finds Kozelek waxing poetic over his chopstick skills as well as all-things San Francisco, while “Live In Chicago” features a thoughtful remembrance for the victims of the 2016’s Orlando nightclub shooting.  

No stone is left unturned as Kozelek mines everything from ruminations on his “boxes of christmas cards” (“The Mark Kozelek Museum”) to his ritual of watching The Shining every Christmas (“Good Nostalgia”).  And despite the near continuous stream of words, Kozelek’s flow rarely meanders, an impressive feat given the length of many of these songs.  The album’s occasional deviations from this formula (“The Banjo Song”, and the rare drum performance on “Sublime” are clear album highlights) serve as welcome respites from what is an otherwise rewarding, yet challenging collection of material.

Mark Kozelek is a ‘solo’ album in every definition of the word.  The album is a collection of intense, unapologetically sincere observations that ranks up there with the man’s best work.  For fans of any of his recent post-Benji output, this self-titled effort is definitely a must-listen.


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