Another timeless release from Sub Pop, as Portland songwriter Kyle Craft brings uplifting melodies to this weirdly exciting break-up record
Kyle Craft is a self-taught songwriter whose interest in music began after listening to a David Bowie record. However, it’s not just the The Thin White Duke guiding him on his debut album, as he takes the time-honoured songwriting inspiration of a broken heart as his muse.
It took just the first word of opener Lady Of The Ark for the hairs on the back of the neck to indicate this would be something special. All it is is acoustic folk: simple, pure, been done hundreds of times before, while lyrically it tells desperately of crumbling love and tangled emotions. But it’s all about Craft’s delivery of the vocals; a bluesy pain in his voice making the raw emotions all the more real, as he unburdens his troubles onto the listener.
Trinidad Beach (Before I Ride) opens with Alex Turner-style cinematic pomp (think the soundtrack to Submarine). One of the shorter tracks on the album, it offers a chance to reflect before the opening bars of Future Midcity Massacre has you dancing away your troubles. Balmorhea – complete with harmonica and neck holder – is Dylan-esque in style and incorporates an equal amount of storytelling knowhow, while Three Candles continues the broken-hearted theme.
Dolls Of Highland is a superb collection of songs that has the ability to turn people onto genres of the American West – it’s a gateway drug and Kyle Craft is going to get a lot of people high. Don’t be put off by the lyrical content. Because, despite Craft’s broken heart being smeared all over the record, this is still a perfect soundtrack to warm festival sunsets with friends.
Verdict: An ample soundtrack of lost loves and hopeful recoveries