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Mississippi singer-songwriter Knowlton Bourne is a man desperately on the run from nothing at all.
On his debut album Songs from Motel 43 (Misra Records), the 23 year old constantly mulls over the bottomless threat of a “long way down.” He tackles this fear by hitting the same lonely highway taken by many a songwriter before him.
While the nature of his journey evokes country, elements of indie rock and ambient music cast a looming psychedelic backdrop against his late night escape.
“I Can’t Tell/Run” expertly blends these two influences together. “It’s a long way down/and I’ve been feeling out/out of it,” Bourne sings on the song’s first half over rich harmonica and guitar. Later, the track bleeds into a humming soundscape, with the same harmonica transformed into cosmic synths.
On first single “Hangin’ Around,” Red Red Meat style guitar chug soundtracks the moment where Bourne first describes feeling mired in idleness.The accompanying video shows the singer despondently shuffling from one activity to another, occasionally eyeing the camera with a deadpan stare.
The title track features an alien organ fluttering gently over a cycling guitar melody. Bourne is alone on an ever-stretching road, fighting sleep when he croaks,“Oh the world goes around/but I don’t want to be afraid.”
Finally ,the denouement arrives on “The River (For Nels).” The song is the standout on the record, with a twinkling arrangement Hiss Golden Messenger would sound comfortable picking over. Here, a newly optimistic Bourne begins to unpack all the findings of his existential road trip.
Wherever this young thinker plots his next course, it’ll be well worth it to hitch a ride.
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