JAM THE TRACKS WHILE YOU READ
"GREAT ADD YOU SAUCY MINX" - BEN
JEFFREY M. KELLY
DEER RUNNING AIMLESS
JULY 27TH, 2023
On occasion a magical album comes floating down some mysterious river of song, springs from the “Blackest Water” to crash against the shores of this reviewer’s desk. And Jeffrey M. Kelly’s latest 8 track collection, Deer Running Aimless, has done just that. Troubadour Kelly has found his way from Boston to Wisconsin and distilled the distance and years in between into a solid Americana sound, filled with auditory atmospherics and a narrative pen that keeps one listening intently for the buffeting of the body in this thing called life. “Should I rise when they find me? / Should I tell them where I’ve been? / Deep below the blackest water….”
On “When That Time Comes”, a beautiful melancholic duet, Kelly continues this questioning vein, this act of discovery, of desire, when he sings: “When will you come into my picture? / How long must I wait for you? / Am I ready for your love?” It’s that piercing reflection looking back on college days and one’s early 20s, knowing that time is moving on, that life is finite, love has an egg timer attached. This song is a highlight that bleeds seamlessly into the title track, another bucolic banger, if you will. Because this album does not bang. It breathes. It bellows. It blows softly with whistle wet lips. It’s a bird call in the morning. A candle flame at night.
By the time the 5:23 closer “Dim In Your Arms” queues up, a familiar refrain–the lonely city–comes across couched in austere instrumentation. The town offers up two possibilities. It’s either going to “eat you alive”, or, “keep you alive.” The jury is still out on which. However, in any old city “the women are all so pretty / but home is always on the back of my mind.” And that’s the truth Kelly is ultimately crying. That no matter our journeys, our stories, our peripatetic paths, the idea of home, where we came from can never be fully extricated. Even when we’re shipwrecked and sunk beneath the blackest water.
- TRENT RYAN SMITH