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Waxed - Record Review from Issue #15 May-June 1998

Kieran Kane

Six Months, No Sun (Dead Reckoning)

Nothing good can come of a middle-aged man writing from the perspective of a young stripper. On too many levels it is simply a place he should not visit; that’s not a moral judgment, just an observation about the chasms one’s imagination should not seek to jump. Kieran Kane’s opening “Table Top Dancer” isn’t quite the horrifying misadventure of John Hiatt’s “Little Head”, but it’s perilously close.

From his partnership with Jamie O’Hara in the O’Kanes through formation of the capitalist-collective Dead Reckoning (with Kevin Welch et al.), Kane has written and played remarkably poignant and precise songs, equal parts pop, bluegrass, and inspiration. Six Months, No Sun is not up to those standards.

One would guess from the songs — and it’s only a guess — that somewhere in the three years following Dead Reckoning Kane has gone through a particularly acrimonious divorce. Why else the petulant “(You’re Just) Takin’ Up Space”, about an indolent but attractive ex? Or “Physical Thing”, about, well, mad attraction. Or “In A Town This Size”, a lowercase “Don’t Cheat In Our Hometown”. The standard “What A Wonderful World” (one of two covers in thirteen tracks) seems sung to absent children. Even so, it somehow lacks the heart of, say, Victoria Williams’ version.

Perhaps Six Months, No Sun is intended as a concept album, a Hallmark card to the midlife crisis. Regardless, for the first time in a fine career Kane has lost his touch. The songs are flat and clichéd, and miss the attention to detail that makes his earlier work such a timeless pleasure. Indeed, they feel like the kind of journal entries one makes late at night and tears up the next morning. The music, despite the presence of the Dead Reckoning A-team, is simply ordinary, and rarely swings.

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Originally Featured in Issue #15 May-June 1998

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