After furthering his career as a public speaker on ‘Common as Light Are Red Valleys of Blood’, Mark Kozelek has ditched the Sun Kil Moon moniker on ‘Night Talks’, but has reverted back to the singer-songwriter blues folk that came with it.
Kozelek only acknowledges the Sun Kil Moon title with a stripped-back version of ‘I Love Portugal’, from the aforementioned ‘Common as Light Are Red Valleys of Blood’. Most songs on said album rely heavily on words, the stories being told and current affair references – because of that, this version of ‘I Love Portugal’ doesn’t really do anything different, and the bareness of the acoustic emphasis leaves even more to be desired.
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While epic in its own unique way, the most recent Sun Kil Moon album suffered only because of its lack of Kozelek’s signature melodic baritone; there’s a hell of a lot of talking over the two hours, but Kozelek almost goes full ‘Benji’ on everyone with this EP’s title track. A lyric of Mark’s from ‘Seventies TV Show Theme Song’ did admit “maybe the world has changed and I’m not that songwriter anymore”, but the crippling honesty of his lyrics have so much more charm when holding hands with his full vocal talents.
The lyrics themselves are still quintessentially Kozelek. He recounts his conversations, discusses the cruel tragedies of the world, and learns. Despite the satisfaction of hearing this sung on the title track, Kozelek still impresses by simply speaking over a wistful instrumental on ‘Astronomy’. And it all comes back to nobody knowing much about astronomy.
‘Pretty Little Flowers’ would be the best song on the EP if the vocal duet with Kath Bloom were a bit more laid back. The composition is great, it’s very unlike Mark, with him playing a more conventional chord progression on his guitar, one that sounds oddly compatible with his voice. Live track, ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ takes on a more gruesome, piano-propped style, that wisps from devastating verses to somewhat bouncy choruses. It’s a fine song, another one to cherish.
‘Night Talks’ doesn’t necessarily show Mark Kozelek at his best, but if anything, the mix of old and new can only strengthen his discography.
‘Night Talks’ is out now via Caldo Verde
01. Night Talks
02. I Love Portugal (acoustic)
04. Pretty Little Flowers
05. Famous Blue Raincoat