Given what I’ve been sent to review this year so far, 2018 is going to be a staggeringly brilliant year for music. Kyle Craft’s Full Circle Nightmare is perhaps not what most people associate with Sub Pop. Craft looks like Sid Vicious trying to be Ryan Adams dressed like Gram Parsons but his music is entirely his. This is Craft’s third album having released a debut, Doll Of Highland, back in 2016 and, in 2017, Girl Crazy, a rather brilliant collection of covers of female artists.
Listening to Full Circle Nightmare is like being Kyle Craft’s best female friend and letting him pour out his troubles to you or him coming round and just doing it anyway. In essence, it follows the emotional journey of a heartbreak. As the album is ‘entirely autobiographical’ you can guarantee you’re going to be affected by this one.
Very much sixties folk rock in style, the album is indeed ‘rollicking’. Recorded live in the studio it has the energy of a concert performance. If Craft didn’t have his feet up on the piano a la Little Richard during ‘Fever Dream Girl’ I’ll be very surprised.
There is a clear focus on the power of narrative and the written word on this album. Craft paints vivid pictures and uses rhyme playfully. On ‘The Rager’ the focus is on a femme fatale featuring a killer couplet rhyming ‘shadows’ with ‘gallows’. All of which is delivered in a voice smooth as Galaxy combined with musical hooks of integrity and richness.
By the time Craft reaches ‘Heartbreak Junky’ he has moved from maudlin and is approaching anger. He makes a series of comparisons between himself and his lost love, all of which see him at his loser-like worst. His trusty female friend must only be nodding her head in agreement.
‘Exile Rag’ is more bluesy, sounding like an excerpt from The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street. In fact, this entire mid-section of Full Circle Nightmare has more than a whiff of saloon bars, whisky and dustbowl landscapes. ‘Slick and Delta Queen’ might be about a boat rather than a woman, I’m not quite sure. But it’s a marvellous bit of stoned bitching about misplaced love nonetheless.
The wallowing and recriminations do end. By the final two tracks Craft is nicely fired up on vitriol and determined to move on. ‘Fake Magic Angel’ reintroduces the piano and is heavy with percussion before the country guitar twang begins. Everyone is happy that he is ‘sick of sad songs’.
A perfect testament to being drunk with love/drunk because of love and the terrible, terrible hangover incurred when you switch lager for crème de menthe.
Full Circle Nightmare is released on 2nd February 2018 through Sub Pop.