Review by Lindsey Craun.
So many contemporary artists attempt to portray themselves a certain way or appeal to a select crowd, and as a result, their music is starting to seem more and more pretentious. Unfortunately enough, it’s rare to hear a musician just play what they want to play regardless of the judgment sure to follow. Kurt Vile’s fourth full-length album, Smoke Ring For My Halo, offers a refreshing change. It’s obvious that Vile is simply doing what he wants to do, and what comes from it is a timeless collection of songs that can be summed up in one word: real.
As a whole, Smoke Ring For My Halo is a really mellow, warm sounding album. For the most part, all you hear is Vile’s voice and a guitar, allowing him to keep it simple and develop a level of intimacy with his eager listeners. From the moment you press play and the first song “Baby’s Arms” begins, you feel as though the guy is sitting in a chair serenading you from two feet away. His music is so easy to listen to, and lends itself to a wide audience. The songs remind me of the laid-back ‘70s rock albums I grew up listening to in the back seat of my dad’s old Acura.
The only criticism I’d come up with for the album would be a lack of variety in the types of songs he included in it. The songs all run together with the constant simplistic guitar strums and Vile’s carefree vocals. But perhaps that’s why his music is so likable; he’s not one to try too hard. The talent just comes naturally, and there is something to say for that. Though each and every song is enjoyable and incredibly easy to listen to, I’d like to hear Vile switch it up every once in a while, maybe throwing in a slower, powerful ballad amongst the many light-hearted easygoing songs. Maybe I’m wrong, though. He seems to know what he’s doing after all.
Listen to “Jesus Fever” below and download here.