When a member of a band branches out and puts together a solo project it always fascinates me when said solo project is so drastically different from their "day job". It's also extremely rewarding as a listener when both projects are something you would recommend to people to pick up. Such is the case with Scott Kelly and The Long Road Home.
Scott Kelly is one of the brainchildren behind Oakland's Neurosis, one of the most important and influential metal bands of all-time. However, unlike the fascinating layers, immense and ethereal sounds of Neurosis, Kelly's solo work is as sparse a soundscape as you may ever hear. His newest effort, The Forgiven Ghost In Me, really is the ying to Neurosis' yang.
Barren, heavy, depressive, melancholy - all words that could describe Kelly's most recent solo outing (this time accompanied by "The Road Home" made up of fellow Neurosis member Noah Landis on baritone guitar and keys and guitarist Greg Dale). But you could also use words like visionary and beautiful to describe this record. One of the things that has always made Neurosis such a unique band is their ability to find meaning and beauty even in swirling darkness and chaos. This ethos trickles over into Kelly's solo work making it a record that annihilates whatever boundaries the singer/songwriter genre attempts to build.
His voice is as gravel-filled as a dirt road running for thousands of miles through deserts and vast wastelands. But just as there is something alluring and mysterious about the desert so there is in that voice that creeps and crawls over top of his acoustic guitar and the various aural landscapes so carefully painted by Kelly's backing band. Kelly clearly draws from a deeper well of emotion and experience than the average singer/songwriter and to be frank if most of them tried to find these depths they would come off as pretentious and fake. But Kelly is clearly one of the most honest and unique talents in the world today.
Kelly recently combined efforts with fellow Neurosis mastermind Steve Von Till (an accomplished solo artist in his own right) and stoner rock/doom metal legend, Wino to put together a Townes Van Zant tribute album. This makes absolute perfect sense to me and the more you listen to The Forgiven Ghost In me the more you hear the Van Zant influence. Few songwriters could speak from the very core of their soul and bare all for the listener the way Van Zant could. But with this album Scott Kelly has done a hell of a job in attempting to pick up where Van Zant left off.