"Lost At Sea, Looks Like Rain" a

Even angels have their own brand of hell to pay, a point that recurs literally and metaphorically throughout Erik Kjelland's lush and prickly new disc, Lost At Sea, Looks Like Rain. Kjelland's third solo effort finds him acting as a tour guide through the telling, yet minute, details of an environment that can at once be overwhelming, dangerous and bland - the relationship. Navigating the waters of relationship requires a sensibility that spots the storm well beyond the blue horizon; Kjelland is adept at forecasting turmoil by studying the tiny currents that swirl past the boat.

Initially inspired by an indie film, Lost At Sea expands the premise of the film and ponders the complexities of a relationship that endures, but Kjelland avoids the neat, and unrealistic, resolution that is required for a happy-ever-after ending. The sea is, after all, endless, and so are its terrors and charms.

Kjelland's deceptively lush vocal and instrumental arrangements, reminiscent, perhaps, of the Jayhawks at their melodious and troubled best, provide a soft counter to the probing point of the lyrics. Wrapped in a bittersweet piano introduction and coda, the disc is driven by layers of acoustic guitars overlaid with Kjelland's vocals, punctuated by a variety of other instruments. The result sounds like pop-rock, but discerning listeners will find themselves reaching for a compass.

Recorded at Moondog Studios in Madison, Wisconsin, the disc includes Kjelland stalwarts Nick Fry (upright bass), Arthur Ranney (electric bass), and Brad Reuber (drums/percussion), but it's clearly Kjelland's disc; he wrote all the songs and plays most of the instruments.

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