After two dozen albums in two decades, Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek remains as melancholy as ever.
Pondering his lot backstage in "Sunshine in Chicago", he observes, "My band played here a lot in the Nineties when we had lots of female fans and f***, they all were cute/Now I just sign posters for guys in tennis shoes". Among The Leaves is full of such self-deprecating reflections on the troubadour lifestyle, equal parts apologias for bringing home STDs and glum self-absorption raised to mordant humour, his laconic baritone set to waves of acoustic guitar fingerpicking that recalls Jose Gonzalez and early Leonard Cohen; however bleak, there's no denying the delicate mood created by his charm.
Download: Sunshine In Chicago; Track Number 8; The Winery
two dozen albums? really?
2 more reviews:
Former Red House Painter Mark Kozelek has, over 20-odd years, become something of a slacker iteration of Leonard Cohen, ruminating on unrequited desire with a dolorous thrum of a voice and an increasing mastery of classical guitar. He can still drag tears from hardened hacks with his Song for Richard Collopy, a threnody for his late guitar restorer, whose devastation lies in its affectionate detail. The ridiculous life of a working musician is a recurring theme here, as Kozelek lays into the indignity of bad gigs, the unattractiveness of his fans and "fucking shuttle buses". A hoot.
The former Red House Painter has always given listeners an unedited glimpse into the life of the working troubadour (setting up, soundchecking, half-empty shows).
And, at times, Among the Leaves feels like stealing a look into Mark Kozelek's notebooks – complete with cringey rhymes and margin notes. It could all go horribly wrong, but a hitherto only-hinted-at humour (try "UK Blues") punctuates this hypnotic and haunting glimpse into an imperial isolation.