Kip Boardman – The Long Weight (Ridisculous Records)

Kip Boardman The Long Weight

Laidback opener All Fall Down saunters woozily between a bleary-eyed Ben Kweller and a sozzled Aimee Mann, Boardman’s voice a little squeaky and sorrowful amongst the midnight guitar licks, sleepy drums and ploddingly optimistic piano. It’s followed by the distinctly Harry Nillson-esque Mysterious Strangers, Boardman’s voice sweet and buoyant amongst the tracks shuffling groove and alt-country guitar lines, like Ryan Adams trying not to wake the neighbours, and much like that touchstone it takes a standard musical envelope and stuffs it with playful lyrics and rich production.

The muted brass section and dreamy backing vocals buoy the otherwise so-so Runnin’ Right. There’s a jazzy shuffle to the shaker driven percussion of All That Bad, with Jen Condos’ bass slinky before the track shifts into gear and becomes a soulful little ditty with a very Call Me Al-era Paul Simon-vibe. Wonderin’ has a bright and breezy rhythm, Boardman’s piano carefree and his voice high and, weirdly, a little Kermit the Frog, as he coos ‘Take my hand and lead me off this ledge, I’m bound off soon.’ As fruity accordion and crashing drums join the fray there’s a suitably daydreamy quality to the track.

The summery twiddlings of Can’t Take This drifts by amiably but forgettably, likewise Wind Is Restless babbles along, Boardman has a good voice and keeps the instrumentation on these tracks reasonably vibrant, but occasionally the songs themselves are so lucid that they float over you.

This Too Shall Pass feels a lot like on of Elton John‘s more recent attempts to capture his glory days, and is, as such, a languid piece of country balladry with a bittersweet chorus and sombre piano chords, and the youthfulness of Boardman’s voice is his undoing here, the song lacking a certain experience that would really sell lyrics such as; ‘And you’re looking at the wreckage of a life long car crash.’

The record ends with Bowline, another maudlin tune with lyrics about how to tie the titular knot, it’s not that I have anything against downtempo tunes, but there’s a lightness to Boardman’s style that jars with the song’s intentions and contrasts with what should be honest, emotional and steeped in hurt. The weary instrumentation works on its own, even with some rather trite whistling at the end, rolling from side to side with a sad steady pace.

An album that’s a little too front heavy with decent tunes and loses its firm footing as things continue, it’s an easy listen and never a slog, in fact it’s biggest flaw is that some of the tunes are so light and airy that they slip by unnoticed. Boardman is a talented musician and a good songwriter and the songs that don’t work here will perhaps mature along with their author, interesting if flawed.


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