Kelly Pettit: These Days – Review
Kelly Pettit is a visionary singer-songwriter based just north of Tokyo Japan, although he was born and raised in Canada. “These Days” is Pettit’s fifth solo offering, produced by Greg Arnold and released in 2010.
I was pleasantly surprised by the opening track “She Shines”. Kelly introduces the album with his voice and acoustic guitar before his ‘band’ comes in and starts rocking out. Straight off the first track we get all the flavours of a slick production, the tight arrangements, rhythms and harmonies all provide for a very accessible and commercially viable sound. There is more than an accidental nod towards fellow countryman Bryan Adams, here and this is also apparent with the second track “I Remember” These are the perfect songs to set up the album for what is to come and their short snappy formats make them especially radio-friendly. “Into Your Sea” breaks this mold at just the right point. A simple and beautifully arranged drum-less song, which features guitar, vocal, trumpet and trombone. This is perfect timing as many musicians/producers neglect the ebb and flow of music, the dynamic between songs – so it really helps to give the album some real shape. The fourth song “Stay” is perhaps my own personal favourite. Pettit has crafted a very emotive and colourful song with space enough for a shimmering cello. The lyrics are simple and poignant and this song really speaks to you. Additionally, the melody and hook-lines are superb making this an extremely catchy number that could easily top the charts. Judith Hamann’s cello work comes to the fore with the middle eight and provides some truly beautiful textures adding to the emotional impact. Impeccably stirring and beautiful. Again the following song (the album’s title track) is tempered to change the mood again in its intro and first verse, complementing the previous song perfectly. Pettit continues to the end of the disc with a consistent run of strong songs. There are no “fillers” at all and although the ten tracks only amount to 36 minutes and 11 seconds of music, this album is clearly about quality rather than quantity. It’s a little like choosing an excellent espresso instead of a large mug of instant!
The overall mix of this album is commercially predictable but still lively and buoyant despite the heavy digital compression. The drum sound is completely flawless, with some very rich and warm tones from the toms. The compression on the lead vocal is occasionally overcooked, resulting in the telltale pumping sound – this is mostly apparent on songs like “You the melody”. Given the exquisite recording of the cello and the gentle picking on the guitar, this could have easily been avoided by allowing the voice to have more of the dynamic space. However I will add that because the songs themselves are crafted well and Pettit’s vocal and guitar work are so accomplished, this issue is completely overshadowed by all the positives. As a listener I remained entertained the entire time.
Overall this is a superbly accomplished release from Kelly Pettit. There is a rich assortment of colour and shape and plenty of substance to this collection of finely crafted songs. There are plenty of influences apparent, including Crowded House, Rob Thomas and shades of Bryan Adams here and there. The strong suit of this album is clearly Pettit’s guitar and vocal. His melodies, harmonies, and vocal accents are well crafted, well placed and extremely creative and effective. He clearly has the vibe, the mojo, and the sex appeal to produce a world class commercial product. If Pettit can find just a touch more originality to offer the listener he could have the unique selling point that record labels look for to develop and ultimately get the backing for world wide promotion. I, for one will be keeping an eye out for this artist, I’m sure he has a great future ahead of him.
This article was written by Neil Thomas for Rock n Roll View. More reviews of up and coming artists can be found at Indie Music Digest.