As he makes clear in the liner notes, Kasey Anderson has some things to get off his chest on this album. Eight years' worth of things, in fact, the amount of time he spent doing singer/songwriter time in Bellingham, Wash. On paper, that sounds potentially off-putting, like sitting one barstool over from That Guy, the dude who goes on and on and on. But Anderson not only makes you want to listen to what he has to say, he makes you want to slide your stool even closer so you don't miss a word.
Of course, it's key that the music backing those words is worth leaning in for as well. The liner notes also mention some burned bridges back in Bellingham, and that's a fitting image. Muscular rockers such as All Lit Up and Torn Apart flare up and blaze bonfire-strong. (Plus, it's clear that Anderson has no qualms about carrying torches originally ignited by Steve Earle, Bruce Springsteen, Matthew Ryan and other hardcore, hard-working troubadours.) And the slowed-down numbers - Home, for instance, and the piano-nudged Like Teenage Gravity - feel like they were captured late at night by the light of a dying flame.
As uniformly strong as "Nowhere Nights" is, one track deserves to be singled out, the album-capping Real Gone. There's the three-minute song where you start checking the time about a minute in because you're getting impatient, and then there is the rare, and truly impressive, eight-minute song that seems half that length and over too soon. Real Gone, equal parts simple riff and deep emotion, is the latter. Get comfortable on your barstool. It's a long, but rewarding ride.