The Malta Independent 23 February 2020, Sunday

Kevin Gordon delivers earthy, literary brilliance

Associated Press Thursday, 6 September 2018, 10:03 Last update: about 2 years ago

Kevin Gordon, "Tilt & Shine" (Crowville Media)

It's no longer necessary to think of Kevin Gordon as an undiscovered gem now that he's been written up in the New York Times and Rolling Stone.

Still, it's fair to say he's been delivering earthy, literary music for years without breaking past the need to crowd-source his records or hawk them from the stage of some East Nashville nightclub.

On his latest record, "Tilt & Shine," Gordon delivers another album that comes as close to sonic poetry as anything from any musician who hasn't already won a Nobel Prize for literature.

A native of Monroe, Louisiana who earned a master's in fine arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop before settling in Nashville, Gordon matches edgy music to gritty, vivid lyrics. He scratches out his sound on a 1956 Gibson ES-125, tuned to low, open D for a visceral, electric blues-based vibe. Then he carries you off to musky motel rooms and prison rodeos and anywhere else he wants to take you.

"Every river's a daughter of a dirty rain," Gordon sings on "Saint on a Chain," a brilliant meditation on religion. "See how it shines, how it shines."

Not much of what Gordon does is a contender for commercial country radio, maybe because it rocks too much. It's less clear why music this powerful hasn't broken through on rock stations, but that might explain the crowd-sourcing.

Wherever it surfaces, it's mesmerizing enough to give people who hear it the sense that they're in on a secret.

See how it shines, indeed.

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