The Last Place You’ve Been – Chris Kelly (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

You could say that the job of a storyteller, a real storyteller, whether they are an author, musician, poet, artist, whatever, is to soak up life, act as a sponge, a repository for narratives and tales, events and anecdotes, to travel the world really getting to the heart of the human experience. How can your art truly reflect life if you haven’t really lived it. And if it doesn’t reflect life then what really is the point?

Chris Kelly knows all about life. As a member of The Scooters he travelled the world with his music experiencing everything life had to offer, from the highs that come with being a globe-trotting musician to the lows of personal tragedy. He’s put the miles in, dues have definitely been paid. 

Now, as an older, wiser, solo musician he has stepped back into the light with a 5-track e.p. a gorgeous blend of understated acoustic pop, singer-songwriter vibes and gentle indie balladry. Using wonderfully restrained structures, a rhythm section which does little more than builds a platform behind him, a rhythmic acoustic guitar and just a smattering of  string washes and layered guitar textures, Kelly still manages to build shimmering soundscapes and chiming acoustica, lush sonics via some deft and to the point songs.

Iron Skin, which kicks things off, is a blend of luxurious indie-folk and Kinks-inspired pop-lullaby, a character study par excellence and the sort of song which could only be written by someone who has seen the world, the real world. Letter To Myself is laced with reflection and nostalgia, a younger man communicating with his future self, a dialogue between then and now, Password runs on a more jaunty beat but is no less soul-searching and the e.p ends with Beautiful Ways, the type of song which you normally only find in Damien Rice territory, which for me is about as high a benchmark as you can hope to hit.

The Last Place You’ve Been is the sort of album which Chris Kelly probably couldn’t have written as a younger man. There is a maturity and a self-reflection which only comes with having lived, loved and lost, having seen the world, bathed in its highs and been broken by its lows. And that imbues this collection of songs with something many singer-songwriters don’t have…total, heart-on-sleeve, unswerving, unapologetic, raw and beautiful, honesty!

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