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CD REVIEW: Kenny Schick - Under
By Chip Withrow - 06/09/2008 - 03:06 PM EDT

Artist: Kenny Schick
Album: Under
Genre: Acoustic Folk/Rock
Sounds Like: acoustic Grant Lee Buffalo
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
CD Review: I’m 42, and I don’t like to consider myself old-fashioned. Just this morning, I read a blog by a guy (my own age, too, for crying out loud) bemoaning how text messaging is causing writing skills to deteriorate. I almost replied to tell the guy to lighten up.

Kenny Schick’s Under is based on a 21st-century occurrence – meeting someone online and moving to Australia to be with her. Now, my sister-in-law met her husband through online matchmaking, but I met my wife the old-fashioned way – at a party both of us almost skipped.

From his experience, Schick has crafted a starkly beautiful acoustic gem. His lyrics and vocals are personal and confessional; the instrumentation is organic. I’ve been listening to this one a lot lately, discovering nuances with each spin.

On the wistful “Summer,” I was entranced by the hypnotic guitar picking and vocal interplay between Schick and Sabine Heusler. There are some nifty guitar underpinnings to the song that I noticed upon later listens.

Steve Crain’s mournful cello is worth listening for in the chorus of the propulsive “Bottom of the World” – nice lyrics on this one, too, and Schick reaches for some high lonesome falsetto notes.

Schick’s acoustic picking is worth a close listen. On the lilting, Beatle-y “Rain” (not the Beatles song of the same name) his guitar sounds like gentle rainfall.

“Ghost” is sometimes slippery due to D.B. Walker’s dobro, and then ethereal with ringing arpeggioed guitar.  Walker’s dobro also colors the dirt-road bluesy “Sun Goes Down.”

One of my favorites is the straight-up folk tune “Kiss.” Schick’s guitar work is deft, and Gordon Gurley’s sandpaper percussion is a nice back-porch touch. “Black and Blue” is another sweet, folksy track, with a delightfully catchy instrumental riff.

A couple of soul/blues tracks, “Opposite” and “Calling You,” are also standouts. “Calling You” is also a cool example of how Schick tosses unusual chord changes into most of the album's cuts.

The warmth and immediacy of the production contributes to the heartfelt vibe of this disc. Kenny Schick's Under is crisp, contemporary American folk music, inspired by trip to the other side of the world.

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