The double-tracked mournful voice is one of the more mesmerising tricks in music. Mark Kozelek is one of the absolute masters of this and ‘Admiral Fell Promises’, a solo album in all but name, is one man, one guitar and two vocal tracks deployed to wonderful effect. Having previously released music under his own name and been the founding figure of the sublime Red House Painters, Kozelek has, since 2002, been operating within the confines of Sun Kil Moon. Previous albums ‘Ghosts Of The Great Highway’ and ‘April’ have been Neil Young evoking bursts of vintage Americana, the latter comprised of many songs not unfamiliar with the ten minute mark.
While these songs are hardly short – six of the ten clock in past six minutes – the sound of ‘Admiral Fell Promises’ feels far more open, at least in part due to the sheer amount of space created by stripping back almost all of what was there before. ‘You Are My Sun’ is as bare and beautiful as you might imagine, and worth celebrating for the magical couplet: “You are a friend in the shadows there to bring when I need, you are the suites of cellos there to mend if I bleed.”
Truth be told, the Sun Kil Moon track I have perhaps loved more than any other this year, even ‘You Are My Sun’, is a ridiculously enjoyable cover of ‘I’ll Be There’ by The Jackson 5. Only two minutes and twenty seconds long, it recasts it in similarly sparse clothes to all of ‘Admiral Fell Promises’ and demonstrates not only that it is and always has been a great song, but also that Kozelek’s abilities as an interpreter are a match for his skills as a songwriter. You can get in on the bonus ‘I’ll Be There’ which comes free with purchases of the album from direct from the Caldo Verde label.