Sun Tangled Angel Revival
During his years as frontman for southern riff-rockers Drivin’ n’ Cryin’, Kevn Kinney also produced a series of spare solo acoustic records. His fifth solo effort, however, finds him working with an honest to goodness band. The record sounds something like Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ (how could it not with Kinney’s unmistakable nasal sandpaper whine), but it features deeper forays into country, blues, psychedelia and folk than you might expect knowing the DnC catalogue.
Opener “(Welcome to the) Sun Tangled Angel Revival” serves as an anthemic introduction to the band and the album, with its guitar histrionics and lyrics based on a Kinney short story. Kinney espouses the benefits of being oneself on the rollicking electric folk number “Fly Your Flag High.” Nice harmonies highlight the dusty Woody Guthrie-like folk gospel of “In the Land of Plenty.” And “Baby I Just Wanna Go Home” is a fantastic road trip rocker featuring guitarist Gibb Droll.
But it’s a pair of songs about change that are the real heart of Sun Tangled Angel Revival. “Everything’s So Different Now” is about returning home to the old neighborhood and finding that everything has changed. “I can’t believe they cut down my old apple tree,” Kinney sings. Ultimately, it’s also about how much the world has changed in the years since September 11th. The tune has a surprisingly positive, almost sunny chorus. Weepy pedal steel by Adam Musick colors the sprawling narrative of “This Train Don’t Stop At the Millworks Anymore.” It’s a great toe-tapping country ballad about the outsourcing of jobs, with marvelous attention to detail.
The record peters out with a marginally interesting instrumental (“The Great North Myrtle Beach Pancake Massacre”), some generic southern blues-rock (“Madman Blues”) and a stream-of-consciousness spoken word thing (“Epilogue Epitaph in A Minor”). On the latter, Kinney offers these lines: “Poor man wanna be rich/Rich man doesn’t give a fuck/So stand in line and shut your mouth, cause you’ll do more time for smoking pot than Wall Street ever will for selling off your future.”
Even so, Sun Tangled Angel Revival re-establishes Kinney’s credentials as a champion of the working man and as a talented songwriter capable of straddling musical genres. Good stuff.