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Songs for a Blue Guitar – Red House Painters

Songs For A Blue Guitar

(1996), 7.5/10
Although Songs For A Blue Guitar is credited to the Red House Painters, it feels like a Kozelek solo album. As well as using musicians from outside the band, Songs For A Blue Guitar is markedly lighter in tone and content, even compared to Ocean Beach, with many of the songs centring around gentle acoustic arrangements. It’s also more loosely constructed; many of the songs lope over five minutes, and a couple of the electric tracks crack the ten minute mark.

Songs For A Blue Guitar also features three covers, which further lighten the tone; Yes’ ‘Long Distance Runaround’, The Cars’ ‘All Mixed Up’ and Wings’ ‘Silly Love Songs’ are all given the Kozelek treatment. The eleven minutes of ‘Silly Love Songs’ should have been dropped altogether, as its only interest is the novelty of the saccharine lyrics set against the grinding and solemn electric arrangement. The other long track, the twelve minute ‘Make Like Paper’, is the album’s highlight, like an epic 1970’s Neil Young guitar showcase, Kozelek throws in an avant-garde guitar solo and a killer riff that is withheld to halfway through the track. Much of Songs For A Blue Guitar is devoted to languid acoustic material, with the opening ‘Have You Forgotten?’, ‘Priest Alley Song’, and ‘Revelation Big Sur’ particular highlights.

Songs For A Blue Guitar doesn’t quite rank among the best Painters albums, as it’s sloppy and self-indulgent in places, but it’s likeable nevertheless.

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