Kurt Vile – Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (ep)

A homage to country stars of years gone by.
Label: Matador
Released: 2nd October 2020
Rating: ★★★

Sometimes, it turns out, recording versions of one of your hero’s tracks can lead to them turning up and singing on them with you. Kurt Vile shows that there’s hope for stans everywhere as his love letter to Grammy winner John Prine led to a collaboration for a reprise of Prine’s ‘How Lucky’ on Vile’s latest EP.

The whole record is a homage to country stars of years gone by, with the always mellow dreamer opting to shift the focus towards familiar sounds from his life on something that’s just 40% fresh KV material. With studio sessions dating back to 2016, this has been a long time in the works – perhaps only finally coming following the passing of Prine earlier this year as an opportunity for the former The War On Drugs guitarist to show respect for his idols and musical heritage.

‘Gone Girl’ – a cover of ‘Ring Of Fire’ producer “Cowboy” Jack Clement’s 1999 track – feels a heartfelt choice, with heaps of passion wrapped into Vile’s delivery of the lyrics. Naturally, this was all recorded in Nashville and the warmth of the guitars makes for a blissfully pleasant interlude from the scary world outside.

While this may not be the most ‘forward-thinking’ release, it comes from a kind heart who will happily admit how lucky he is to be doing what he loves the most. New original material ‘Dandelions’ and ‘Pearls’ feel uniquely his though, capturing that Southern sound and adding his signature drawl to create deeply personal tales worthy of a second listening.

“You can throw ‘em, or you can merely hold ‘em,” he explains on the former, and it would appear that after holding onto these songs for a fair few moons, it’s the right time for KV to send them out into the ether.

Ciaran Steward

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