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CD of The Week

Week of 4/18/22

    Kurt Vile - (watch my moves) (Verve)

    For his ninth record and “major label” debut, Kurt Vile returns with (watch my moves), a sprawling 15-track album that reestablishes his reputation for making timeless music that transcends modern labels and trends. To still be able to create objectively enjoyable and downright wholesome songs is no small feat but something Vile has always done with ease. And while one could claim he is playing it safe with the tone and restraint on (watch my moves), those very traits are what make the record never overstay its welcome (even with a 73-minute runtime).

    The album starts off with the piano-led “Goin’ on a Plane Today” which perfectly captures the charm of his signature brand of mellow songwriting. It is a simple reflection that details chugging a beer, putting on your favorite Neil Young record as you board a plane to open for Neil Young, and thinking, “Man, life can sure be fun.” You can certainly hear the Neil and Crazy Horse influence later in the album on the tune “Fo Sho,” which sounds equal parts Trans and Psychedelic Pill.

    Vile has made it a trademark of his discography to display dream-like imagery with his music and lyrics. The lead single “Like Exploding Stones” is a trippy and introspective tune that reaches even higher heights thanks to some fuzzy tenor sax courtesy of James Stewart of the Sun Ra Arkestra. That introspection is turned up with a more sorrowful gaze on “Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)” but before that is the catchy “Palace of OKV in Reverse” which employs some clever lyrical techniques.

    It is also great to hear him and the band play well together with guest musicians. The Sun Ra connection is a treat, Cate Le Bon provides piano and backing vocals on “Jesus on a Wire” and Chastity Belt assist on “Chazzy Don’t Mind.”

    But the biggest surprise is the cover of “Wages of Sin.” This deep-cut Bruce Springsteen outtake was written between Nebraska and Born in the USA and is a tune that even the Boss himself had forgotten. Talking to Stereogum, Vile said, “I was back into certain songs on Tracks. I just loved how ‘Wages of Sin’ is a masterpiece, and a dark masterpiece, but it’s an outtake.” For his version, he and the band make this outtake an absolute showstopper.
    Vile has made a career out of doing his own thing. Now at 42 years old with nearly 20 years in the music business and nine albums into his solo career, he has the hindsight to know how to keep a good thing going. (watch my moves) proves that theory while also making it known that, while he has already achieved so much, there is still so much more to do.

    Kurt Vile is set for a two-night hometown stand at Union Transfer on June 3rd and 4th.
    Review by Keith Obaza

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