Kyle Craft – Dolls of Highland
The USA is a big place. A fact just as true now as in the early 70s, from whence Craft’s debut finds much of its influence. And having grown-up on the banks of the Mississippi, then relocated to Portland, Oregon, Dolls of Highland arrives rather unsure of its location, feeding melodic, alt-country hooks and singer-songwriter motifs into a vaguely retro, generic Americana – one foot in a Louisiana tavern, the other far more comfortable in hipper locales.
In other words, it’s all a little curious, elements of confidence struggle to coalesce with more tepid turns, frequently in the same song, Craft’s nutcracker vocals and lyrical self-exposure never quite as endearing as they threaten to be. This also runs true for the sense of drama on songs such as Pentecost and album highlight Lady of the Ark; the intimacy becomes unmoored (and taking on water when the trumpets of Gloom Girl and honky-tonk piano of the title track kick in); a record hitching down mid-West highways, uncertain of its destination.