Travis Kline creates More Time
With a tidy five-song EP, More Time, Travis Kline is the newest entrant in Portland's burgeoning alt-country renaissance. He's got the tousled hair and plaid shirt with the mother-of-pearl snaps, so he's got the look down. And for his first proper release, he's gathered some No Depression types from near and far. Far: Jon Graboff, one of Ryan Adams's Cardinals, playing a lovely pedal steel. Near: Roy A. Clark, current keyboard player for Rick Charette (if you can stay depressed after a Charette show, you're just no fun).
Kline's got plenty of other help in his home studio, too, Roy Davis, Todd Hutchisen, and Justin Maxwell among them. But Kline remains front and center and the sound is fairly cohesive. If anything, there's too much going on. There are times — from the open of "Anyway," where the acoustic and steel are split into the left and right channels introducing some pop rock, to the finish of "On High St.," where a cacophonous piano heads a purposely spiteful finish to a bouncy strut — when it just seems like Kline's over-thinking things. This is country, at its heart, and country needn't be so involved. Just let the songs and the instruments do their work.
When that happens, as on the slow and hushed title track, or on the shuffling "A Thought," which finishes the disc, Kline really shines. Every one of the songs here is about love lost. On the first four tunes, we find that someone is alone or lonely. Only on that last track, though, does Kline seem comfortable with himself. His reedy tenor quickens, aiming toward Slaid Cleaves, and the rhythm is relaxed and confident. Maybe it's because Kline has finally accepted his fate: "And if you're wanting to feel different about everything you've done/Don't look back on what has happened, cuz those times are done and gone."
As an early offering, this EP is a well-produced and -executed introduction that'll get Kline in the door. If he wants to stick around, though, he's going to have to develop a signature sound to separate him from the pack.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE TIME | Released by Travis Kline | with Roy Davis and the Dregs + Pete Kilpatrick + Marie Moreshead | at SPACE, in Portland | Nov 28 | www.traviskline.com
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