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CD REVIEW: Robin Kelly - Something Magical
By Cyrus Rhodes - 01/26/2010 - 02:22 PM EST

Artist: Robin Kelly
Album: Something Magical
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Acoustic Folk/Rock
Sounds Like: John Lennon, Don McLean
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs: Peace and Understanding, Something Magical, We all let go,
Weakness: Spike the punch with flashes of emotion.
CD Review:

New Zealand guitarist, singer-songwriter Robin Kelly releases “Something Magical” in 2010. This is his 4th release so far.  

Logging in at just under 45 minutes the CD starts things off with “We all let go” a gentle intro piece complete with acoustic guitar, piano, and soothing vocals from Kelly. Track 2 “Something Magical” serves up yet another impressive track with flowing melody, some impressive string accents providing rich melodic structure. Track 3 “Keep Her Warm” is a passionate marquee ballad, with impressive harmonica solo, and vocal build reminiscent of John Lennon, or Don McLean. The CD makes a great first impression, its gentle, soothing, and flows extremely well song for song. The music, lyrical content and subject matter is quite uplifting, and is packed full of hope, and deep conventional wisdom. The musical tones and textures remind me a lot of R.E.M. however Kelly’s vocal style is more folk-mainstream to be considered Alternative. This music is pure acoustic folk that is sung from a deeply honest perspective. What’s impressive about this CD is the amount of musical variety displayed on this CD. Some songs will lift your spirits like “The Dusty Road to Eldorado” and “Coming Home Soon”. While other are full of wisdom like “We all let go”. The defining moments for me musically are the sad but true statements - “Heal our Child” and “For Ever Now” this is where we see the true brilliance of Robin Kelly shine through. The musicianship of all the players involved is solid. I might add Kelly’s vocal style works – and is unobtrusive, refuses to try to hard, and fills the space peacefully. Kelly holds his own pretty well on the bare bones acoustic songs quite well - tracks “The Moment” and “The Angel to Your Eyes”. I didn't fail to notice a few well placed falsettos in there as well. My favorite piece on the entire CD is by far Track 7 “Peace and Understanding.” This amazing love ballad lets it all hang out serving up sizzling piano, passionate vocal build that will remind you of John Lennon. Something Magical provides rich creativity, with a slew of musical textures and instrumentation. The CD end with Track 11: “The “Angel in your Eyes” A powerful, emotionally changed final statement that leaves things on a solitary note.

Songs “The Dusty Road to Eldorado”  and “Bare Eternity/Out There” tend to drag a bit at the end pushing 15 minutes between them both. Though Kelly’s vocal style goes down smooth, I really wish he took a few more vocal risks here and there showcasing raw emotion. Emotion that is to powerful to be choreographed. The best artists can let this all hang out vocally. It can also be done within this context of this genera. Artists like Don McLean, Janis Ian, Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell are legends because they spike the punch wit their amazing vocal touches. Listen to “Yee Haw” (3:07) Track 5 “The Dusty Road to Eldorado” to see how bad it can get. “Peace and Understanding” comes awfully close to what I am talking about with it's reckless vocal swagger reminiscent of John Lennon. No matter how powerful the music, or the message, nothing and I repeat will ever trump (Singer to listener) emotional delivery.   

Overall this release from Robin Kelly is extremely impressive. Its strong suit is his strong musical variety, deep emotional peaks and valleys, and thought provoking subject matter. Kelly's' conventional wisdom is simply priceless. He tells each story with peaceful tranquility, hope, and pure honesty. When this CD is over you will be dazzled by his wisdom, touched by his message, and mesmerized by his vocal presence. My hats off to entire the production team as "Something Magical” is clearly an industry standard production. Its obvious listening to the music of Robin Kelly – he is a traveler with many interesting stories to tell. Robin Kelly is an artist worthy of audience, respect, and praise.

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