Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers

Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers

Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers

The Bear

Vanguard Records

Brilliantly rustic alt-country with a heavy dose of bleeding heart-on-sleeve lyrics is exactly what you’ll get with The Bear, the latest from Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. Each song is dripping with emotion and before you know it, you are feeling the exact same way.

The chorus of “Dying Wish of a Teenager” is absolutely heartbreaking, especially when Kellogg strips everything out except his guitar and repeats the chorus, “Don’t wait for me,” slowly adding-in the underlying lyrics, “All these hopeless thoughts/ All this pain I’ve caused/ All the love I’ve left behind.” Then the drums kick in and everything crescendos until it disappears, leaving the secondary lyrics and guitar to mop up the tears that are sure to be running down your face by the end of the song.

The introspective “See Yourself” leaves you pondering “Even if your heart gets broken/ And it will/ Imagine if you never loved/ And how that would feel.”

Kellogg perfectly manages the upbeat (“All Part of the Show,” “Do,” “The Bear”) and the contemplative (“Satisfied Man,” “Oh, Adeline,” “A (with love)”), but he is at his best when he is baring his soul. “Lonely in Columbus” is one of his best, especially when his normally strong voice shows its fragility on lines like “Last night I got lonely in Columbus/ Called you for the third time in a day/ Said you were feeling better, but I still felt so depressed/ It doesn’t change the fact that I’m 100 miles away/ It doesn’t change the fact that I’m away.”

The Bear is one of the most involving albums I’ve heard in a very long time. There are a load of great alt-country albums, but very few take the listener and pull them directly into the song as well as this album does. Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers have made one of the best alt-country albums of the 2000s.

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