Tommy Keene | In the Late Bright (Second Motion)

cd_tommy.jpgRight from the get-go, this is a Tommy Keene album, with his signature vocals, crashing guitar and driving pop.







The press release for this disc says that Tommy Keene "may well indeed have made the finest work of his career." Big shoes to fill, to be sure…and, yet, right on target.

For those who don’t know, Keene’s long been a power-pop genius. Over the span of a 25-year (and counting) career, he’s released eight full-length studio albums, as well as EPs, retrospectives, a live disc and one of previously unreleased material. He’s what’s known as a "musician’s musician": highly lauded among his peers for his songwriting and guitar prowess, criminally overlooked by the media and music fans. Sadly, that fact won’t necessarily change with this release…but it should; oh, it should.

In the Late Bright kicks off with its near-title track, "Late Bright"; right from the get-go, this is a Tommy Keene album, with his signature vocals, crashing guitar and driving pop. It’s instantly familiar, and up to date without sounding too much of a given era. Even those unfamiliar with Keene’s work could not help but to be drawn into this work: it’s that pleasing.

Over the 11 songs herein, Keene continues to show off his plethora of skills: singing, lyrics, intricate and memorable guitar parts, catchy-as-hell pop songs. "Save This Harmony" is a slower, gentler offering, while "Tomorrow’s Gone Tonight" and "Goodbye Jane" upping the pace to full-on, singalong pop.

"Nighttime Crime Scene" is this disc’s "Silent Town," the latter being the exquisitely beautiful and tender standout from 1996’s Ten Year’s After (incidentally, Keene’s last release on Geffen, which meant the label left it to sink in obscurity). It’s a beautiful number, Keene’s voice at the forefront, accented by sparse yet prominent acoustic guitar. After a psych-out instrumental track ("Elevated"), Keene returns to what he does best: pop with a little power behind it.

"Realize Your Mind" is vintage Keene, with breathing room provided by the simmering "Please Don’t Come Around." Disc-closer "Hide Your Eyes" is a reflective slow-burner, the perfect bow to an inspired collection of songs.

My only complaint with the disc is its brevity; clocking in at under 40 minutes, In the Late Bright is over before you’ve gotten your fill. The only answer, of course, is to hit the "repeat" button and sit back, ready to be bathed in its beauty again and again. A+ | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Big Star, Matthew Sweet, Lloyd Cole

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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