Kelly Flint,
Drive All Night
(BePop, 2007)

In the New York City-based band Dave's True Story, lead singer Kelly Flint sings post-modern, semi-avant garde material. On her first solo album, however, she offers a much more accessible program. The music on Drive All Night is folk-based, singed with Americana, but definitely not the wimpy, unchallenging soft sound heard on so many "coffeehouse" stations.

Flint is a strong, aggressive and upfront performer who truly believes in using her voice to bring a song to life. Her songs are wrapped in imaginative arrangements, featuring unusual combinations of instruments -- say, a mandolin and Hammond B-3 organ playing in unison, while a fiddle wails in the background. The arrangements frame her distinctive alto voice beautifully. You'd want to listen even if the songs were bad.

Fortunately, that's not the case. Flint can write. Her lyrics vibrate with unusual and apt metaphors -- in "Blood & Bone," she writes about a woman whose "characters did not read your play" so that, "angry now, you fended off the seasons." "Drive All Night," another strong song, contains this verse:

God has left us stranded
in the dust
all I know is what I see
and what I see makes me believe
that He has lost His mind
there's a madman in the sky
that one so young should die.

No matter what your personal belief system is, you've got to agree that's strong writing. Like all of her best lyrics, it has a vividness and a precision that lesser writers would give up their best Taylor guitars to be able to achieve.

And these lyrics are wrapped in good melodies that are skillfully, creatively arranged and produced.

Kelly Flint can write, sing and arrange. She knows how to create a song and how to present it. This woman has it all.

by Michael Scott Cain
14 April 2007

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