Kelley Stoltz

Below the Branches (Sup Pop)

SXSW Records

Kelley Stoltz

Below the Branches (Sub Pop)

On his enticing Sub Pop debut, Kelley Stoltz comes on like an acoustic killer, banging his piano like a soul soldier on opener "Wave Goodbye." Somehow, Stoltz squeezes fresh sounds out of the track. Must be that piano, which anchors Below the Branches' best cuts, although Stoltz is reportedly a wunderkind multi-instrumentalist. A Detroit songwriter by way of San Francisco, he certainly knows his way around a pop ditty, and backing guitarists Kevin Ink and Shayde Sartin keep things moving. When Stoltz runs to Jesus on "Ever Thought of Coming Back," the power-pop is infused by harmonies that signal the influence of Brian Wilson's old band; neither conventionally religious nor purely political, the chorus runs, "Yeah if you ever thought of coming back well now is the time." Two tracks later, Stoltz takes a dreamy detour to the land of new psych on "Summer's Easy Feeling," wherein he describes the sky as being "a blue kaleidoscope." The disc concludes with Stoltz's inner McCartney struggling to vanquish his latent Lennon. By turns fearless and foolish, the songwriter goes so far as to name-check Yoko on his possessive ode "Prank Calls," though he hasn't quite earned the right. (Friday, March 17, 10pm @ Red Eyed Fly)

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