Blink! It's Keaton Simons Hitting the Concert Trail with Joshua Kelley
Whether you choose the EP BLINK from Keaton Simons or his double CD, Exes and Whys—featuring the same songs from the EP and a slew of new stuff– particularly on CD 2.– you will have something that will either introduce you to this bluesy, jazzy, indie rocker with a mind towards intelligent lyrics richly layered with meaning. Definitely into the inuendo, metaphor and allegory, Simons is distinctly different and bound to capture your attention — and maybe your heart– with his tunes.
If you are looking for the hip hop or dance beat with mindless, nonsensical lyrics and repetitive music, you are in the wrong place. This is music for the drive, for background and for those times when you want something meaningful to listen to– whether it’s the Without Your Skin or the more playful Blink— there’s a layered quality that slowly reveals itself over time.
From the musicality ranging from a more pop-ish sound to the distinctly jazzy/bluesy pieces, the range of his talent is evident in this ability to seamlessly switch from one genre to another. Evaluating on the sheer musical themes (sans lyrics), there’s a lot going on. Note that Simons plays virtually every instrument on the CD and you have a talent that isn’t common. It’s enough to keep you listening for a good chunk of time– from synthesizer to acoustic (Brilliant Blues which has a studio version on the EP and a LIVE version on the double CD making it worth buying both disks) to pop inflected tunes, there’s a treasure chest in the double CD of Exes and Whys.
While I am enamoured with the musicality of his work, the lyrics really reflect a person/persona that is dealing with the Exes (of past relationships) and the Whys (the failure ). What’s interesting is that he gives as good as he gets or takes in these relationships and examines the reasons why people hold on–despite the impending and obvious failure that is bearing down on the relationship like a runaway freight train. Willing to stick with it despite the impending doom is a frequent theme. Drive Away offers that sensibility of knowing that the relationship is futile and heading toward the end– it’s all about living in the present tense (often something we don’t do) and skipping the futility of the future. Feeling like you are reading pages from a journal or overhearing a private personal conversation, it’s like Keaton has stripped his soul for all to see when it comes to all things personal. Even the revelation of Wrong Side of Goodbye is a huge step for a guy who willingly admits he is a player and been the bearer of " see ya" because the person isn’t right or just he’s "not into her". Being on the other side of the "goodbye" (the receiving end), it’s obviously a learning situation and he’s actually glad to know what the pain is like. Interesting coming from a guy — particularly since they aren’t usually this emotionally aware and this song tells you just how savvy and "in touch" Simons is with the emotional roller coaster of life. Other songs that are snapshots into his emotional life include Currently, Without Your Skin, and several other tunes get you an eyeball nto his emotional world.
On a broader scale, he’s very much aware of his place in the universe and what it means to give as well as take– both in relationships as well as in societal/global reference. Everything is an anthem to give– both as a generousity and in gratitude for all that we have. Think of it as a call to action to get out there and give back at least a little of what you have been given– whether it’s time, money or both. Do what you can to help change the world and he is saying you can do that.
Love the EP because it’s truly the introduction you need to Keaton and once you hear it, you will want the Exes and Whys double disk CD. What’s unique is that he has improved and tweaked the stuff from the EP on the Exes and Whys and it’s worth having both to just see that situation. The second CD has stuff that I just love. Joseph is a reality check of life and his metaphorical lyrics are insanely gorgeous. The techno-infused Burden of Proof is definitely worth several repeat listens and actually shows off that sometimes before you commit or get seriously involved maybe you should check out if the other side has met the burden of proof of interest because too often we jump into things because of our lust/love/emotional compatability and forget that the other person needs to match that or be similar in feeling or tone. . It’s an interesting song about the hesitancy of a guy– or anyone– embarking on a relationship. Very much a reality check of the current situation and the sense of impending doom that it’s going to die before it really gets started. His Brilliant Blue LIVE version is smokin’ hot and I love it as much as I love the studio version– perhaps more because it’s very crisp. The specific girl related songs are directed to those who have made serious impressions on his life. Disk 2 is definitely a potpourri of pieces and aspects of his emotional train ride and often transportation/vehicles are allegorical and metaphorical figures in his songs. Also he uses different aspects of homes/houses and structures in his life to describe the "boxes" that life presents– a la Just Outside My Window.
What’s interesting is that Keaton Simons is evolving and very much open and unafraid of sharing what’s going on in his heart, mind and soul. Because he’s a guy, that’s pretty unusual because some of the songs indicate his own responsibility for the situation. While different from James Morrison, there are similarities here that I find in terms of musicality and personal feelings that are real. While Morrison is more straightforward with his lyrics, Simons by nature of his life experiences and education, digs deeper into the situations of life and shares a great deal of who he is.
However don’t be fooled into thinking ths is all he is. He’s much more than that. This "old soul" has surrounded himself with great people and also is web savvy enough to know how to tap into his grass roots connection.
One of the most interesting parts about Keaton Simons is that he’s using the web in ways to reach out to his audience and grow more listeners by using the very tools that most people take for granted but that many musicians seem afraid to use. While videos cost serious dinero to make– and Keaton has those too — he takes a step into cyberspace to use LIVE webcasts to touch base with his core listeners as well as conference calls to talk LIVE with people who want to talk to and with him from around the country and the globe. (That’s how I first spoke to him– via the conference call –after several email exchanges). It’s a smart, fast way to reach out to listeners and people seeking the "next hot thing" in music– and Keaton Simons IS the NEXT HOT THING in music. He’s currently on tour with Josh Kelley on the east coast (lucky you who are on the "right" coast). If you have an opportunity to get tickets, do so, because it will be an amazing experience.
Mar 18 2007 8:00P
Bowery Ballroom (w/Josh Kelley) New York, New York
Mar 19 2007 8:00P
North Star (w/Josh Kelley) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mar 21 2007 8:00P
Lincoln Theatre (w/Josh Kelley) Raleigh, North Carolina
Mar 23 2007 8:00P
The Handlebar (w/Josh Kelley) Greenville, South Carolina
Mar 24 2007 8:00P
The Workplay Theatre (w/Josh Kelley) Birmingham, Alabama
Mar 26 2007 8:00P
12th and Porter (w/Josh Kelley) Nashville, Tennessee
Mar 27 2007 8:00P
Rick’s Cafe (w/Josh Kelley) Starkville, Mississippi
Mar 28 2007 8:00P
Smith’s Olde Bar (w/Josh Kelley) Atlanta, Georgia
Mar 29 2007 8:00P
Rhythm and Brews (w/Josh Kelley) Chattanooga, Tennessee
Mar 30 2007 8:00P
Newby’s (with Josh Kelley) Memphis, Tennessee
Mar 31 2007 8:00P
The Dame (w/Josh Kelley) Lexington, Kentucky
Apr 2 2007 8:00P
The Parish House of Blues (w/Josh Kelley) New Orleans, Louisiana
Apr 3 2007 8:00P
The Country Club (w/ Josh Kelley) Augusta, Georgia
Apr 12 2007 8:00P
TBD Las Vegas
Apr 16 2007 8:00P
The Knitting Factory Los Angeles, California
Finally an LA DATE!!! Definitely worth buying advance tickets for all So. CAL people who want an interesting musical experience. Check out the Knitting Factory for the 411. Click the link and order tickets now!
I have a podcast with Kelley that talks about this current tour that will go up in the next couple of days and you can hear what Josh Kelley has to say about his current musical state — and he has a great deal of praise for Keaton Simons!
So catch these CDs — the EP and also the Exes and Whys (gotta love that title) on http://www.keatonsimons.com or http://www.myspace.com/keatonsimons and see what the buzz is all about. This is someone who’s going to be around a long time and while he evolves and grows — the music is only going to get better.