Monday , March 4 2024
Kimbrough aptly likens his new solo disc to a book of short stories tracing an arc of love from freshness and hope to disappointment and loss.

Music Review: Will Kimbrough – ‘Sideshow Love’

Although he’s perhaps better known as a sideman to such luminaries as Emmylou Harris, a collaborator with people like Todd Snider, and a songwriter the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Will Kimbrough has been a busy recording artist for some time. His first solo album in nearly four years proves he’s a distinctive voice on the Americana scene.will kimbrough

He aptly likens Sideshow Love to a book of short stories tracing an arc of love from freshness and hope to disappointment and loss. With a clear voice but a stark, gravelly sound bed, he opens the disc with the bluesy “When Your Loving Comes Around” and the dry, dusty “Let the Big World Spin,” two songs with similar bony melodies. But a playful side emerges with the title track, a carnivalesque trip that brings to mind Leon Russell and conveys the sense two people in love always have that there’s never been a love like theirs before.

A soul-music influence is evident in the gentle, gospel-flavored “Soulfully,” but the dry humor returns with “Home Economics.” (“You ladies get your taste in guys from Cosmopolitan.”) And with that, he’s earned the earnestness of the charming “I Want Too Much,” with the most heartfelt singing on the album. With its rolling guitar-picking, plainspoken melody and clever lyrics, the song is a gem.

The next songs convey a yearning for maturity followed by the crush of love betrayed, then loneliness. “Has Anybody Seen My Heart” has a particularly winsome melody. The elemental “All We Can Do Is Love,” driven by Kimbrough’s banjo, strips the vicissitudes of life to the bone: “I guess all that we can do is live / Try not to do any more harm…Guess all that we can do is laugh.”

“I don’t suppose we’ll get it right,” but “it all begins again,” says the rueful lover of “Who Believes in You,” a mournful tune whose flicker of hope is fanned by the closing number, “Emotion Sickness”: “You’d see the light if you’d only look…You’d better start living or die on the vine…You only need open your eyes.” And this is a set of songs created by an observer with wide-open eyes, along with undeniable talent as singer, instrumentalist, and above all, writer of songs that hook both the mind and the heart. It’s one of the best new Americana releases I’ve heard this year, and will become available Feb. 18.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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One comment

  1. Dr Joseph S Maresca

    Sounds like great stuff! There are many redemptive qualities in the music like hope and love.