Kyle Andrews,
Find Love, Let Go
(Nettwerk, 2007)

Sufjan Stevens, Bright Eyes, Iron & Wine. And Kyle Andrews.

The ability to turn out a professional quality recording from a home studio has allowed a growing number of idiosyncratic and inspired individuals to avoid the artistic compromises that often result from collaboration with a major recording company. Of course, in order to be successful at this game an artist must be able to do much more than compose a catchy tune, write a poignant lyric, play a variety of instruments. They also need the production chops to get the track recorded and mixed so it will compare favorably with the latest releases from Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani. Then there's the whole issue of getting the resulting disc into the hands and ears of listeners.

Find Love, Let Go is a rough-around-the-edges recording of seven engaging songs by a vocalist unlikely to be compared to Jack Johnson. Where Johnson delivers smooth vocals over pop-folk arrangements, Andrews' voice cracks and crackles with passionate intensity. The arrangements are clever and inventive without being precious or overly arty. Acoustic guitar is the foundation to most tracks. Competent bass and drums or drum tracks fill out the sound. But it's the embellishments that make this recording really special. The angry electric guitar break on the title track, the cold electronics and heavy reverb on "Flat City," the wah-wah-esque keyboard underlying the verses in "Give Up the Anger."

Among my favorite tracks on Find Love, Let Go is "Get Mad" which, with its simple, repetitive piano lines and synth strings, recalls the techno-depressive album, The Hurting by Tears for Fears. "Lackluster Love" is another superb track with an Elliott Smith, minimalist approach to the arrangement and a gravelly vocal that adds an appropriate mournfulness to the lyric. "How many more mistakes will I make before I find a little peace? / How many hits must I take 'fore I finally catch my break? / Don't take my lackluster love for granted / I can only give what I have / You own only what you make for yourself / and I am doing what I can."

About the only track here that I'm not completely sold on is "Bat Fangs." Andrews goes for a whispery vocal and tinkling piano and keyboard arrangement. The lyric is more stream-of-consciousness that the rest of the disc and the song fails to coalesce into a coherent whole.

Aside from this one track, however, Find Love, Let Go is a wonderful, richly textured release that leaves the listener wishing Andrews had recorded a full album's worth of material. Definitely a keeper!

review by
Gregg Thurlbeck

16 February 2008

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