San Francisco home-recording multi-instrumentalist Stoltz promoted and distributed his last album, ("2001's "Antique Glow") himself. It garnered considerable attention and praise, such as being ranked #24 in MOJO's "40 Best Albums Of 2004", which was described as "a time capsule only recently discovered...a jamboree grab-bag of delights filled with everything from psychedelic folk and cosmic troubadour pop to garage rock and lysergic R&B...one of the year's major finds." "Below The Branches" picks up where the last album left off, combining psych rock, folk, blues, and pop in its thirteen tracks, and exploring new, piano-driven directions as well. Improvisational pop, alchemically blending influences with results that are both old and new.
Of all the lonely singer-songwriters making late night albums in their bedrooms, San Francisco's Kelley Stoltz does the best job convincing you that he built a time machine on the side and brought back odd members of the Beach Boys, Wings and Pink Floyd to help him out with his. On his third release, the follow-up to 2001's beloved Antique Glow
, it sounds like he has crammed a horn section next to his nightstand and strings in the closet. Songs like "Wave Goodbye" and "Memory Collector" float on barreling piano melodies and comfortably worn-in grooves. Stoltz's voice, meanwhile, is soft and unobtrusive, coming into view only when a track needs that knockout punch--like halfway through the psychedelic "Summer's Easy Feeling." Below The Branches
is the kind of album that makes you keep reaching for the CD cover with a magnifying glass: "Does that really say ©2006, because it feels more like 1976?" I mean, who these days, sings things like, "I remember your childhood hair, floating wild at the county fair"? Well, okay, except the guy from Nickelback. --Aidin Vaziri