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Kyle Craft - Dolls of Highland

  by Paul Waller

published: 15 / 5 / 2016

Kyle Craft - Dolls of Highland
Label: Sub Pop
Format: CD


Mixed bag debut offering from Sub Pop’s latest signing, singer-songwriter and solo artist Kyle Craft

This is an odd one. As ‘scene’ as American singer-songwriter Kyle Craft looks on the front cover of this, his debut album for Sub Pop, with his baby face and professionally scuffed up locks there is no disguising that within the grooves of this record lies a man with a true feel for the traditional pop melody. Sure most tracks are dressed up with a hint of indie crooner and Americana suss but at its heart ‘Dolls of the Highland’ is as much as a chart ready LP as the most recent Coldplay or Bruce Springsteen efforts have been. One track, ‘Lady of the Arc,’ dispenses with these trapes though and sounds as if Kyle has handed a perfectly pure pop song into the record company only to let Phil Spector have a tinkle with the percussion production duties and it sounds all the better for it. There is no mistaking what it is that lifts the track above the norm though, and that is the wild vocal performance that somehow remains understated throughout. I can’t figure it out. Repeated listens don’t enlighten me. Maybe his voice just sits on the thin line between too much and not enough. Whatever witchcraft there is behind this magical performance works wonders though. It’s an album highlight. As for album opener ‘Eye of a Hurricane’, there is definitely a splash of ‘Abbey Road’ worship involved in the song’s composition, yet more often than not I am reminded of the most recent work of the Decemberists or even Marc Morrissett’s little known Octoberman project. As well as this being a good thing this is where the album’s problem lies. It’s a likable effort sure, but at its heart there is far too much at play being borrowed in style at least from what has been before. I don’t expect a reinvention of the wheel but time and time again this record reminds me of other (and in most cases better) ones.

Track Listing:-
1 Eye of a Hurricane
2 Balmorhea
3 Berlin
4 Lady of the Ark
5 Gloom Girl
6 Trinidad Beach (Before I Ride)
7 Future Midcity Massacre
8 Black Mary
9 Pentecost
10 Dolls of Highland
11 Jane Beat the Reaper
12 Three Candles

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