Review: Jim Keller – Spark & Flame


Jim Keller - Spark & Flame

Jim Keller – Spark & Flame
Format: CD / Label: Continental Record Services
Release: 2022

Tekst: Bert van Kessel

With this successor to 2021’s highly acclaimed ‘By No Means’, Jim Keller has come up with a dark, at times even menacing album, with harsh sound textures created by his brother-in-arms, producer Adam Minkoff.

Together they have coined a sound that imagines his gruffy vocals to the bluesy tunes to have been set in an industrial Berlin studio; but it is very much a New York affair.

Keller and Minkoff assembled a bunch of New York’s finest musicians, many of whom Jim Keller regularly plays with at his club gigs. They laid down the basic tracks live in the studio; on top of these Adam Minkoff piled layer after layer of keyboards, horns, guitar overdubs and background choirs, thus creating a kaleidoscopic soundscape that slowly reveals its many mysteries spin after spin.

Centre stage, though, is always Jim Keller’s immersive delivery of his personal yet universal contemplations, penned together with Byron Isaacs of the Lumineers. His gravelly vocals  are very convincing, they penetrate deep and command the listener’s attention  every second of these twelve mesmerising tracks.

Lively background vocals brighten up some of the tracks; for instance, the choir on ‘Til The Water Drinks My Bones gives it a distinct  Beach Boys feel . Adam Minkoff contributes some wonderful acoustic slide here.

Gerry Leonard excels on electric guitar in a dazzling solo in Magic, it is matched by Jim Keller himself in Tower of Love. The album’s closing track Even Angels Have To Fall  is a beautifully intimate acoustic song about fatherhood.

I never thought Jim Keller would be able to surpass the thrilling ‘By No Means’ but he has.

01. Falling Down
02. Tower Of Love
03. Spark & Flame
04. Magic
05. ‘Til The Water Drinks My Bones
06. Bells Of Notre Dame
07. Learning To Crawl
08. Coming Back
09. Fight The Fight
10. When You’re A Rock
11. Blue Horizon
12. Even Angels Have To Fall