Tuesday, November 22

Record Review: Kurt Vile [So Outta Reach EP, Matador Records]

By Jennifer Graciano
Allowing a release from Kurt Vile to marinate and simmer may be the key to enjoying the songwriter’s music; the Philly musician who tugged at our heartstrings with his 2011 release Smoke Ring For My Halo is back with his So Outta Reach EP.

Vile’s sound continues to feel warn in, not in the tattered hand-me-down sense, but in that one shirt you picked up at a thrift shop, the one you thank your lucky stars you found and somehow fits perfectly. Of course that warn feeling might be due to the actual revisiting Vile does on these six tracks. “Life’s A Beach” and “(so outta reach)” being musical companions spread out on this very same EP tie things together, along with the wonderful cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Downbound Train.” “Laughing Stock” may be my favorite of these six tracks, with an intro that rambles on and sets the perfect backdrop for those muffled vocals Vile is so keen on. “The Creature” and “It’s Alright,” both sound great as if in a half-asleep haze, and maybe they were sung in such a state as the EP cover gives way.

An ongoing theme, Vile lets us peer into the most personal facets of his life and we can’t help but love him for it. At this point in Vile’s career we have to wonder how he manged to keep an acoustic sound fresh and satisfying, a sound that is by its nature tried and can easily come off as stale. Vile’s almost-bored vocals continue to be engaging on all accounts, fingerpicking as nimble as ever. Not much else can be said about Kurt Vile that hasn't already been said; everything, every adjective, has been expressed tenfold. And somehow here we are discussing Vile once again; the complexity in songs that sound relatively simple is hard to put into words effectively.

For the most part, the style he’s embedded in his songwriter niche has remained unchanged since God Is Saying This To You. Despite spanning years and releases, songs like “My Best Friends,” “Trumpets In The Summer,” and “Freeway In Mind” could all very well be on the same collection of songs. So Outta Reach is no different. Like I said, his brand of rock has the potential to get old fast, but after years and releases, Vile manages to please fans and gain new ones with So Outta Reach; something which both baffles and excites me.

The Creature

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