The first song on the Pete Kilpatrick Band's new Shapes and Sounds EP might be called "Dear July," but the five-song work is clearly an ode to winter, to its delicious melancholy and the joys of finding cozy corners in overheated bars or naked bodies under six or seven blankets. Paired with Jonathan Wyman's warm production, equally kind to throaty electric guitar solos and crystalline piano breaks, Kilpatrick's inclinations produce a soporific effect, like getting boozy in a wool sweater next to a raging fire.
Kilpatrick has largely held his band together since last year's Hope in Our Hearts, losing only lead guitarist Zack Jones in the meantime (he was at one point replaced with Nick Goodale, and he's here stop-gapped by Ryan McCalmon and Wyman), and the sound of the Band continues to sound more organic and lush. "Feel It," whence comes the title lyric, sprawls out to 5:25, but never feels close to long. Kilpatrick has an increasingly relaxed delivery and the band matches him, letting the song pour forth like so much smoke from the top of a chimney, with a particularly nice organ break from Steve Morell. "The weatherman in New England is never right," Kilpatrick sings with a world-weariness, "he'll say it's snow, but here's the sun again."
Morell also shines on "July," where his piano is achingly sweet, with Matt Cosby thumping along a lyrical bass accompaniment.
There's a new wrinkle for this disc, too, in the person of Marie Moreshead, with whom Kilpatrick trades verses on the winsome "City's Beating Heart," where two lovers meet at a rock show. "I met her after midnight," Kilpatrick breathes, "as the band was plugging in/My winter hat matched the color of her eyes."
"He was looking at me across a crowded room," Moreshead returns, "and it was dark but I swear I saw his light shining through."
Okay, it's a tad corny, but it's just the kind of change-up Kilpatrick needs to make the release stand out, and it's a decidedly different sound for Moreshead: less dainty, more throaty, coming down in the register to match Kilpatrick's key and delivery. And, anyway, she's just returning the favor Kilpatrick extended by guesting on her "Hello There," from the Birdwatchers EP.
She also adds some backing work on the excellently moody "Rock and Roll Never Changes," where Matt Lydon opens with deep-seated drums, heavy on the kick and the toms, and "we dance by the light of the moon till morning comes/But I don't know how to feel, our wires are all crossed." It's a story of love unrequited, or maybe left untried: "Call you back and say, 'rock and roll never changes'/But I left your number on the floor/In the back of a beat up cab wishing I had the guts to face my fears/When did all the good time girls go home?"
You might ask, too, where the good-time, sunshiney Pete Kilpatrick went after the first run through Shapes and Sounds, but I can assure you he's just in brief hibernation.
SHAPES AND SOUNDS | Released by Pete Kilpatrick Band | available Dec 15 | with shows at the Middle East, in Boston | Dec 26 | with Marie Moreshead | at the Frontier, in Brunswick | Jan 8 | with Hutch Heelan and Amanda Gervasi | at SPACE Gallery, in Portland | Jan 9 |www.petekilpatrick.com