Indie boffins have a way of being overly pretentious, of valuing groups and artists who are only marginally interesting. They claim genius for artists simply because they are slightly left-field from the mainstream fodder. However there is the other side of the coin, artist we should be listening, but don’t for some reason or another. At some point or another, all of us have pleaded musical ignorance. No matter how hard we try, there’s always one album or artist that slips past our eardrums, that embarrassing void inside our personal music library. Even writers here at Jamsphere have missed out on lesser known, but groundbreaking albums.
Though there are already enough sensitive guys with guitars to fill all of the nation’s coffeehouses with its very own profoundly affecting and stylishly rumpled soundtrack. Nashville’s singer-songwriter and producer, Michael Stovall, who records as Red Porch Kid, manages to put his own stamp on a moribund genre with his quietly startling formula on his album, “Rocketship”.
The album evocatively conjures up the sound of rustic Americana songwriting with the stylishly atmospheric soundscapes of ambient grooves. This places Stovall’s gorgeous songs in an overarching chasm of physical and emotional buoyancy.
In other words, the dude sounds like he is ‘floating on solid air’ – to steal a phrase from the late and great John Martyn. And songs like “Waitin’ on Something”, “Song For Lana” and the striking “Hangin’ Around” are constructed like intimately pained sighs, delivered sometimes in a chilling falsetto or a celestially haunted croon.
The power is in how these songs sound rather than what the lyrics spell out, perhaps because some things are just easier heard than said. In fact there are songs with no vocals, such as “The Act of Disappearing” or almost none at all, like “Dream #31”, to back up my claim. The stunning thing is that Red Porch Kid shines, in either type of arrangement – vocal or instrumental, as his music is all about atmosphere and mood.
Furthermore, Red Porch Kid tends to use his use voice much like an instrument anyway, so these songs flow from one to the next rather harmoniously and cohesively. In journeying with him on this album, his songs become a familiar, fragile presence. They are melancholy and lonely, but with the potential for great hope. His tools for creating these pieces of sonic art are simple.
Red Porch Kid favors mostly guitar-driven arrangements both acoustic and clean electric, mellow recordings, airy spacious sonics. Still, he knows the power of crescendo, both in timbre and volume. And now and then, when Red Porch Kid lets his voice shed the hushed and floating affectation, he has a raw abandon that’s quite compelling.
Lyrically, Stovall could be revealed as something of a poet. These introspective songs have words that are destined to be poured over and analyzed if we are to better understand its writer. “Rocketship” is a wonderfully-produced, warm and intimate exercise from someone eager to distance themselves from a tag of “folk singer” which really wouldn’t be anywhere near enough, in describing what Red Porch Kid brings to the table here.