Although Garrett Klahn has played a significant role in shaping what we view as emo, and despite a career lasting two decades, this self-titled effort is his first foray as a solo recording artist.
A slow-burning, introspective album, it’s a world away from the pulsating post-hardcore of Texas Is The Reason or the catchy, melodic punk of Solea. Instead, it sits nicely alongside more recent efforts by Ryan Adams or Rocky Votolato, overflowing with Americana soul and bubbling with alt-country undertones.
In fact, it’s not the sort of album that you’ll find yourself dipping into for a quick fix; it’ll wash over you, seeping in over repeated listens, with moments of majesty shining through. It’s beautifully constructed, wonderfully played stuff that rewards your investment.
Opener ‘Are We Alright?’is straight-up, foot-stomping alt-rock, designed for a Cadillac or a Chevy cruising through the Midwest. It’s not ground-breaking, but displays remarkable confidence, sitting a world away from the genres in which Klahn made his name.
As things progress, this sense of growth marks every single track. The delicate piano on the sparse, percussive ‘Big Deep’ and the gorgeous ‘Ravenna’, the playful jauntiness of ‘Autovia Blues’, or the stripped-back strum and building crescendo of ‘Motion For Action’ all showcase different facets to Klahn and each one feels like a mini triumph, especially for an album so understated and melancholy. It would have been safe for Klahn if all of the tracks followed the same path, but there’s so much depth and subtlety on display it’s obvious it’s a lovingly-crafted, personal journey; a peek inside Klahn’s diary and a look behind the eyes.
It also has one of the first truly great songs of 2016 buried within. “What was that sound? It hit me like a symphony,” croons Klahn on ‘Silver Wings’ and it’s a truly spine-tingling moment. There’s so much intensity behind Klahn’s voice that it will floor you. It’s 4 minutes of brilliant musicianship, pitch-perfect arrangement and bitingly insightful lyrics. “Be careful what you’re wishing for,” he warns as the song fades out. It may be a warning old as time itself, but Klahn has the nous and chops to make such staid arguments convincing and powerful. Hopefully the follow-up won’t take another 20 years…
’Garrett Klahn’ by Garrett Klahn is out now on Rise Records
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair