We’ve been big fans of Kelley McRae for a while now, so we’re really excited to bring you an advanced review of her newest album, “Brighter Than The Blues”, out on Sept. 15th. We’ll be featuring a really cool interview with Kelley and some exciting news about the album closer to release date, so stay tuned.
Kelley is a singer-songwriter who has a sweet voice and crisp clear guitar parts to match. She’s the closest thing we have to a female William Fitzsimmons, which is a really good thing. Her songs all have a trademark sound and her songwriting is clean, succinct and she does a great job bringing you inside her head and all it’s wonderful thoughts. From love songs to songs called simply “Alone”, she manages to give happiness and sadness the same sweet musical sound, one that makes you want to sit, close your eyes and focus on the music.
The album starts with a love song and the title track. “Brighter Than The Blues” is a metaphorical reflection of the feelings of someone in love and is not, as you might think, bluesy at all. It’s a harmonic song with a male and female voice and guitars. No frills and no extra unnecessary noise. It’s a stylistic decision that really makes the words stand out and forces you to focus on the really important part of the song: the message and the way that message is sung. With lyrics like “A window open up in time so I could see so clearly,/ how bright your light shines, a light I hold so dearly./ A light I can see now, whenever I choose,/ a light that shines so much brighter than the blues,” it’s clear that Kelley has a way with words.
That song is followed up by “Alone”, a sadder song, one that sounds like a Milk Carton Kids song in its instrumentation. The two guitars, one for rhythm and one that’s almost a lead guitar, but really just adds that perfect something extra that gives the melody and extra kick, with Kelley’s voice really gives this song an extra punch. The relationship that Kelley sings about, one that clearly isn’t a relationship anymore, is brought to life with lyrics like “What war are you fighting?” and “How did we let our love get killed?” Those aren’t, “well, we’re not in love any more” lyrics. When she finally sings, “And as for me, oh, can’t you see? The war that I’m fighting is for you,” you get a full, painful, and emotional picture of this relationship.
“Ain’t Got Much Time” is a fun song about realizing how short life is. A song that resonates with the weary and especially, I imagine, with musicians, “25,000 Miles” is a beautiful song about the difficulties of being on the road and being weary from all the work and the kindness of strangers and friends. “Oh, Strange Heart” really captures the conflicted emotions and the battle that happens between head and heart.
With an incredible voice, a timeless sound, and an album that shows emotion in all its forms, Kelley McRae has shown, again, that talent doesn’t equal fame. On the bright side, it’s good to find artists who are willing to do anything to continue to create and entertain no matter what the cost. If you’re looking for someone to root for, support, and just fall in love with their music, Kelley would be a good choice.