Kevin House "World Of Beauty" (Bongo Beat Records 2007)
A deceptively seductive record from a painter of Circus banners
‘World Of Beauty’ is Vancouver based painter/songwriter Kevin House’s second record, a follow up to 2005’s ‘Gutter Pastoral’. He has surrounded himself with a gang of musicians of some considerable quality, such as Paul Rigby, of Neko Case’s band, on guitar and pedal steel, and Ida Nilsen on piano who has played with Mike Scott and the Waterboys, John Raham an associate of the Be Good Tanyas and Po’Girl engineers and mixes.
This is a slow paced gentle record that has no bumps in the road and drifts by as naturally as a dark, deep slow running river. Strings wander in and out, brushed drums softly apply a beat, guitars are picked and strummed, and Kevin’s voice rambles about over the top of proceedings, but not always going exactly with the flow, sometimes he seems like he’s asking for directions, despite this, and possibly because of it, as a whole, it seems to work.
Lyrically it takes a few listens for Kevin’s mumbles to come through to making sense, but there’s some interesting things in there, on ‘Earthbound’ Kevin sings ‘You got three shots left at the shooting gallery, to win some prize that you don’t even want, there’s no such thing as a shadow in the dark’, which is something that Elliott Smith could have easily slotted in. ‘Carnival Song’ is not as jolly as the title suggests, but is about as lively as this record gets, its also about as lively as Nick Drake ever got, so that gives you a clue! There’s something of Mark Kozelek in Kevin’s vocal delivery, its likely that he listens to Mark Eitzel’s various projects too. Album closer ‘Where I Want To Be’ has some wonderful playing of picked acoustic, and complimentary pedal steel, it is happy in its lonely melancholia ‘At night I go walking where no one will be, nothing can touch me, invisible me’. A record that’s an enjoyable listen almost despite itself, Kevin seems to want to distance himself from the listener, but you get drawn in to his world anyway, that’s a clever trick!
Date review added: Thursday, January 10, 2008
Reviewer: Patrick Wilkins
Related web link: www.kevinhouse.ca