Palehound - Dry Food

by Jim Harris Rating:9 Release Date:2016-03-04

Palehound’s Ellen Kempner may only be 21 or 22 and this might be a break-up album, and these two qualities alone might make you a bit skittish, but anything done well… Well, Dry Food is more than done well and firmly establishes Ellen Kempner as a songwriter and musician to carefully watch.

Starting off with the Speedy Ortiz-sounding opening track, ‘Molly’, on through the sparse swirls of distorted and sweetly mangled guitars, some brushing, some finger-picking, Kempner writes about breaking up with such poetic introspection and observation as to elevate these lo-fi bedroom tunes to something much more powerful. Whether her lyrical eye is focused on pills or Dixie cups, or pastel beach house doors, and whether the music rattles along like the best of Mac DeMarco (‘Cinnamon’) or Cass McCombs, Kempner, writes uncut, brief 3 and 4 minute musical gems.  Her words are poetic, yes, and often quite memorable: You made beauty a monster to me, so I'm kissing all the ugly things I see

And while it comes through strong that this is a concept album of a breakup at a tender and impressionable young age you get the feeling Kempner, through her art, will turn all those bloody razorblades into polished daggers with pearl handles she will carry around for protection.  And the last song? ‘Seakonk’? I lived it with my 20 year old.  As she sat in the family room, surrounded by her sister, mother, and father, but we have cats, not dogs.  Ellen Kempner is a songwriter we should expect great things from with each new album.

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