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Kail Baxley

A Light That Never Dies – 2015 (Forty Below)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Kail Baxley

The music of KaiL Baxley straddles the line between celebration of retro sounds and the embracement of modern indie Americana. The textured sounds explored on this debut are best explored through headphones, which allow for the more subtle atmospheric moments to shine through.

Baxley has a knack for experimentation, blending multiple styles into a single album and managing to still maintain cohesiveness. His adeptness at funky soul on the superb "Mr. Downtown" may be attributed to a childhood friendship with none other than James Brown.

The sweet vocals lie somewhere between Justin Townes Earle and Langhorne Slim depending upon the song. On "Chasing James Dean," the pedal steel takes center stage to haunting effect, while the sparse horn accompaniment on "Tell the Falling Sun" add beauty to the love song.

While Baxley can compete with exemplar contemporaries like JD McPherson and Anderson East in the retro cool scene, the willingness to explore unique soundscapes such as incorporating hip hop beats ("Mirrors of Paradise") alongside quiet acoustic tracks ("Chasing James Dean") sets him apart. Baxley is an artist who clearly enjoys music beyond genre confinements.