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Mark Erelli

Little Vigils – 2010 (Hillbilly Pilgrim)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Mark Erelli

Mark Erelli writes and plays wonderful traditional country music, but this may have you feeling severely depressed after all is said and done.

There's plenty of acoustic instrumentation, with overt fiddle and acoustic guitar on songs like Hemlock Grove. Yet closer inspection reveals a fairly hopeless guy. Kingdom Come is something like the country version of Richard Thompson's The End of the Rainbow, as it includes nearly overwhelming evidence that it's foolish to believe in a heaven above. Basement Days is a fun song, on the surface at least, as it name-drops Pink Floyd and The Who songs while its lyric recalls teenage garage rock days. But the bottom line is that Erelli realizes he'll never be 16 again and experience initial rock & roll thrills. It's all memories, not experiences now. "Give me one more shot at 16 years old/Back when I still believed that rock & roll was gonna save my soul," he nearly begs. This track, of course, is more rock than either country or folk.

Everything In Ruin has a good groove going for it, although not quite rock, yet the track's relatively upbeat pace contrasts markedly with its words about how all seems to be a lost cause.

The Boston-based musician sings these 11 songs with a world-weary voice, which precisely fits the overall world-wearied-ness of it all. Erelli talks about how there's too much misery to believe in Kingdom Come during Kingdom Come, but there's just way too much musical misery - from start to finish - to truly 'enjoy' Erelli's latest work.