While touring New Zealand in 2008, Mark Kozelek picked up a 5 CD set of recordings by Spanish classical guitarist Andre Segovia. This informed Sun Kil Moon’s next recording project, an entirely solo album of just Kozelek’s vocal tracks and nylon-string guitar. At over an hour, only ten songs, and with no other instrumentation, it would be easy for Admiral Fell Promises to become monotonous, but instead it’s one of Kozelek’s strongest albums, and he has acknowledged it as his favourite from his catalogue; “Bury me with [Admiral Fell Promises]. That album is me at my best, my most focused.” Kozelek’s guitar playing has always been a strong suit, but on Admiral Fell Promises his guitar parts are especially beautiful.
The most striking material is the most direct; ‘Admiral Fell Promises’ and ‘You Are My Sun’ are both emotionally vulnerably, but also content – a long way from the emotional turmoil of Kozelek’s early albums. Elsewhere, the material is more ambitious; songs like ‘Half Moon Bay’ and ‘Third and Seneca’ are mini-epics, despite the minimal instrumentation.
With the lack of diversity in tone Admiral Fell Promises can blend together and as such it’s not a good place to start with Kozelek, but it’s gorgeous and meticulously crafted.