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Music Review: Steve Kilbey & Martin Kennedy – Unseen Music, Unseen Words

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The distinctive voice of Steve Kilbey comes in, and I am immediately transported to one of the best concerts I saw this year. The Church managed to release one of the best records of their career with Untitled #23, not to mention the fact that their 2009 tour of the US was one of their most successful ever.

Ever since Kilbey's first solo record, The Slow Crack, I have always known that he keeps the personal stuff for himself. In all honesty, though, I think just about everything he has done as a solo artist would have fit within the context of The Church. Unseen Music, Unheard Words certainly backs up this impression. There is not a song on here that would have sounded out of place on Untitled #23.

Apparently, the disc was recorded in an interesting manner. Martin Kennedy of All India Radio and Pray TV created the music, then mailed the tracks to Steve Kilbey, who then wrote lyrics to fit. Kind of an Elton John/Bernie Taupin situation in reverse. What the two of them managed to come up with, though, is quite extraordinary. Leading off with “Eyes Ahead,” Kilbey sets a tone of solitude, longing and loss that pervades the album throughout.

Depressing? Yes.

Beautiful? That too.

Like Mark Lanegan’s first solo LP, Whisky For The Holy Ghost, or Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos, Kilbey reaches into his own heart of darkness. The results are as deeply moving as anything I have ever heard.

The pain of “Stretch Into The Stars” is so real, it is difficult to describe. Kilbey presents a break-up on Valentine's Day that obviously destroyed him. The song is followed by the more upbeat “Maybe Soon,” which balances the previous hurt with a dose of new possibilities.This is the brilliance of the perfectly titled Unseen Music, Unheard Words.

I cannot deny the contribution of Martin Kennedy’s music, because all of it fits so incredibly well. But this is a record that delves deep into the soul of a true poet, Steve Kilbey.

He is an amazing talent. Right up there with Van Morrison and Nick Drake, as far as I am concerned. Like Neil Young's On The Beach, this is a record that speaks to people who may not be so impressed with the latest Pop thrills.

Kilbey's record label, Second Motion, is offering a pretty sweet deal to people who order straight from the site. In addition to Unseen Music, Unseen Words, they are offering a bonus ambient/remix version, plus eight Martin Kennedy illustrations. These are definitely some worthy extras, and the way to go as far as I am concerned.

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About Greg Barbrick

  • Katey

    :cough cough: Whiskey for the Holy Ghost was actually Lanegan’s SECOND solo LP. 😉

  • Greg Barbrick

    Sorry Katey.

    It is still a phenomenal record.

  • eek

    echoing Katey…

    :cough cough: The Slow Crack is actually Kilbey’s third solo LP. 😉