Let’s be real with each other for a moment, the folk game is not an easy world to exist in. Blame it on hipsters, the monstrous killing machine that is the music industry, or even the Amish, but ultimately, the folk scene is standing on the highest of mounds in terms of digestible popularity here in the twenty-first century. While the genre is dripping in Americana, it’s still very much reigned supreme by any one of the heavyweight borderline pop artists (obvious exaggeration) out of the United Kingdom like Passenger, Frank Turner, and even fucking Ed Sheeran, thus making it a safe assumption that maybe, just maybe, this is rather popular across the pond. Thus brings me here, with one Kev Minney out of Brighton, ENG and his latest release, Modern Stories.
Kev Minney’s meat and potatoes is based in a very classical infused form of folk, utilizing complex guitar work, a plethora of orchestral components, and a slightly more upbeat end of melancholic vocal structuring, all strung together under the helm of ol’ pretty love songs and pub tunes. This may sound complicated for something usually so simple, and that’s only because really, it is. Modern Stories is a record of intricate tunes presented in a simple fashion. First glance gives you something very streamlined and almost boring, dare I say. But deeper focus on individual cogs in the bigger machine gives you a much broader scope of the sheer effort placed into the song writing. In layman’s terms, some would look at a watch and go “bah, it’s just a few arrows pointing at different numbers.” Those people would also be morons and probably believe that the earth is flat but that’s neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is there are far more detail and delicate crafting than some more basic eyes, or in this case, ears can comprehend.
Where this record, much like its composer, has a great many spectacular ingredients that total to the sum of its creation (to be detailed shortly), there are easily an equal amount of shortcomings that lead to the ultimate fate of slightly lackluster finality and, heartbreakingly, forgetability. Modern Stories puts gorgeous acoustic tones and pure, untouched instrumentation at its source on display in what can only be described as absolutely top notch recording and mastering quality. This work of art, on an engineering level, is textbook quality. Compositionally however, where these songs individually are beautiful, in continuum with each other, do not break pace and lead to an eventual deficiency in interest and enthrallment. Vocal sections, although pretty to say the least, do not captivate quite like the instrumentation does. This is by no means to insinuate that Minney is a bad singer, but is however, not on the level with any one of his potential contenders from the same patch of grass.
Let’s put it this way, this record doesn’t have its “Let Her Go” or it’s “I Still Believe.” From the intriguing meander of opening track “Magic” to the mildly bluesy swell of “A Way Out” and right down to “All I Need,” this effort’s biggest shortcoming is really just that, coming in short. Something like this sounds like a menial thing to doc points for but really, not a single song here creates the kind of addiction this genre has become so known for or gives me the slightest reason to revisit it past this review. One of the toughest hurdles of attempting any musical genre is getting your listener to crave you and your craft, not that of your inspiration.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*Edited by Dominic Abate