New Music:

Joan Kelsey



words by tom johnson

The latest release via the ever-impressive Dear Life Records, Joan Kelsey’s new album, House of Mercy, is an exercise in spontaneity and fragility, a tender and reflective group of songs that touch upon “animals, God, failure, friendship, and refracted memories.”

It’s the first of those inspirations that rises to the surface today, with the unveiling of wonderful new song Horses, the first song to be heard from the upcoming record and a truly absorbing offering. Appearing like some long-lost cult classic of yesteryear, the song is beautifully idiosyncratic, marrying Kelsey’s poetic lyrics with a wonderfully subtle musical backdrop, which was brought to life by Rick Spataro of Florist and Onlyness, who recorded and produced the record, as well as Josh Marre of Blue Ranger who lends additional, wistful guitar here.

As with most songs that grab you so quickly, so unexpectedly, there’s a difficulty in placing the magic of Kelsey’s work. Like the shadowy memory of a dream, there’s a wooziness here, a dizzy half connection that comes from that voice, always slightly out of step, and the way it delivers its words with such tenderness, that will linger long after the song has departed. “Aren’t you tired of chasing Horses?” Kelsey sings, “Haven’t seen one in a while. Catch the door before it closes, and you can save your crooked smile.

Somewhat strange and always beautiful, Horses is a quiet and compelling introduction to the new album, which available to preorder today, here. “I think I made some small progress in the direction that’s most important to me musically and personally,” Kelsey says of it, “slowly dissolving the friction in my mind between daily life and the divine, between memory and memorial, between dissatisfaction and hope.

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Our new physical publication, A Music Journal (Issue 7), is available to preorder now. Find out more here.


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