2 a.m. Orchestra

2 a.m. Orchestra

2 a.m. Orchestra


From start to finish, the self titled release by 2 a.m. Orchestra is a damn fine album. Although there was no press information accompanying it and the Web site is somewhat lacking on details, 2 a.m. Orchestra appears to be the brainchild and hard work of David J Kelly. And while this may be a solo project, he appears to have numerous assistants and members of his orchestra to allow him to swell its sound to symphonic and lush proportion. Throughout this release, songs utilize strings, brass and a variety of stringed instruments all firmly held by the guiding hand of Mr. Kelly. Kelly himself has a distinct voice that at times reminds me of Julian Cope (from his Teardrop Explodes days) sometimes a young Joe Jackson, and at other times resembles the overwrought styling of English new wave bands out of the eighties. In either respect, his voice is strong and suits his music.

The tracks reflect a strong sensibility and awareness of the baroque and chamber pop elements of the late sixties. So it’s really not surprising to hear the rolling drums on the opening track, “How,” immediately followed by violins and brass accompaniment. However, he is as easily at home with what I can only describe as a “jangle pop,” sound. The second track starts off with a mandolin but quickly embraces an acoustic guitar to carry the tune. In fact, this track, “To Whom it May Concern,” is one of the many standouts on this disc, an instantly captivating and rollicking sing a long in the car. So too, is the fourth track, “Radio,” an homage and pean to the redemptive power of music that can trace its pedigree back from Lou Reed’s classic “Rock ‘n Roll.” Kelly displays his prowess on the piano with a song as catchy as it is a witness to the power of music.

Yet not all is airy and light on this release. For all the upbeat tunes and melodies, this Orchestra is capable of creating some dirges and testimonies to loves gone wrong. The third track, “(Part 1): The Loss,” practically bristles with raw emotion as Kelly rails against a relationship that has soured. The fifth track, “Too Long,” addresses a hypocrite who changes their politics to suit their moods. But the centerpiece of the album occurs on track six, “(Part 2): Sleep.” It is an achingly beautiful ballad that is almost theatrical it its power and scope. The song is the aural equivalent of wading into a gentle lake on a cool autumn evening and standing in the shallows as the ground gives away under your feet. The track itself begins with a handful of piano chords that misleadingly sound like an upbeat number is beginning before Kelly’s voice begins. At this moment, the song takes on an uneasy, Twin Peaks-ish quality before finally ending on a tentative bit of optimism.

2 a.m. Orchestra is a very good album that anyone with a passing interest in pop music should seek out. The songs are richly orchestrated, catchy as hell, and oftentimes revel in a dewy eyed wonder of the world. One of the finer albums of the year and one that reveals its many pleasures with each listening.

2 a.m. Orchestra: http://www.2amorchestra.com

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