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Album Review

KIP BOARDMAN
The Long Weight

Who is Kip Boardman and why has he been hiding from me? Justin Smith, drummer for Old Californio, sent me a copy of The Long Weight with a note stating that he thought this was Kip's best yet and I put it in the stack to be perused when time permitted which just happened to be the next week. I had to drive to the Coast and car time is one of my favorite times to listen to new music, so I took a few CDs along. The Long Weight was on top, so Kip hit the player first--- and stayed. The last time one CD completely dominated a long drive was last Spring when Zoe Muth & the Lost High Rollers kicked all other CDs to the curb with her outstanding self-released, self-titled album (Good news! New album in the works!) which became a bit of an obsession of which I am not at all ashamed. Ditto Kip Boardman.

I should be able to give you a hundred reasons I dig Kip, but I can't. I wasn't even sure if I liked the album that much, but something kept me from replacing it on that drive and by the end of the trip, I was sold. This guy is amalgamation of so many things I have liked about music over the years that it is hard to separate them. There are bits and pieces of what drew me to artists like Finnigan and Wood, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and even Phillip Goodhand-Tait and Nick Holmes (whose Soulful Crooner album remains one of my real treasures). There are touches of one of my recent finds and now favorite songwriters, Linn Brown, who you may know without really knowing (she had a hand in a TV news theme which was picked up by a large number of stations). And there is so much more.

Boardman's voice is an odd combination of, say, Brett Dennen and Gilbert O'Sullivan, but if you don't like them don't let it throw you. He sings with an ease which puts you at your ease and, holy crap, can the guy write! He lays out one song after another, ten total, each a testament to his ability. The lyrics remind me of Nilsson here, Goodhand-Tait there and are a huge part of what makes the final product--- the music traces of mid-Steely Dan, the aforementioned Finnigan and Wood, Allen Toussaint, Nilsson, Randy Newman and so many others. He even brushes up against Ophelia Hope's Paul Holden on Bowline, a track which could have worked easily on OH's excellent self-titled album of a couple of years ago--- and I do mean excellent.

There is an overall feel to this album which reminds me very much of Thomas Jefferson Kaye, too. Kaye was one of those wunderkind's of the early seventies who was supposed to be a star but through a series of incidents doomed himself to failure. He produced two solo albums for Dunhill Records, each a flawed gem (he produced a handful of other artists, as well). A small handful of music people loved them, radio ignored them and the potential audience could not find them. In those days, you had to have a voice to even get a semblance of a listen and truth be told Kaye's was not the best, but man, that guy could write! There is a bit of Kaye in Boardman, except Boardman has a, shall we say, more acceptable voice and uses it very well, indeed.

The Long Weight is produced by Eric Heywood, who has worked with the likes of The Pretenders and Son Volt, and Heywood nailed it. The album was recorded live with a four-piece and later worked into final form. The musicians are absolutely topnotch, the sound is excellent and the final product something I'm sure Heywood will point to with pride in future years.

If I said that this album is not for everyone, would that keep you from checking Kip Boardman out? Fine, I won't say it, but if you expect commercial tripe like we've been fed over the years--- songs created for mass consumption through the formula method--- this ain't it. These songs, and this album, have been well thought out, honed to virtual perfection and sculpted by Boardman's vision. This is how it has been done all too few times. This is Kip Boardman. This is a sleeper.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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