There are fifteen reasons you should check out Drive All Night. Fourteen of them are songs. Kelly Flint can write them (well, thirteen of them anyway, the fourteenth being an excellent cover of Justin Hayward's Story In Your Eyes). Boy, can she write them. Lucky for her (and us), she can sing them as well, and she does so in such an unassuming and understated way that you know you're getting the real Kelly Flint, in the musical flesh. The fact that the flesh is, in many instances, shall we say, exposed makes for some truly outstanding moments.
One of those moments is Cartoon, an almost science fiction look at relationships through the analogy of animation. With a line in the chorus like "It's a cartoon, where the guy falls off the cliff and he's flat", you can't help but get the mental picture. It's Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner in love (with cartoon effects), except that it is real and the effects are obviously a bit more than stated. In this case, Flint took a good idea and turned it into folk/pop gold.
The lightly upbeat and country rocking Drive All Night is deceptive in its simplicity. With shuffling beat, Flint rides into a promising sunset, or so you think, but instead rides just to be riding because in spite of the positive tone, something is wrong and someone is gone. It is a song of survival. If you don't pay attention, you won't even know.
The Letter, 1974 is as straightforward as Flint gets, a young girl writing to an absent father while watching her mother disintegrate. A child left behind, with her mother and yet alone. "And daddy, I don't know how you feel," she sings, "I fill in the blanks and I'm always to blame, but come home soon, there's no one at the wheel, and I can't figure out how to explain." A magnificent but devastating song.
She lounges it up with Deep Freeze, Wurlitzer piano laying out a slow, bluesy background while she squeezes just enough out to capture the blues. When you're in a bar drinking and a song like this comes on, you stop. If you're not drinking, you start.
Flint flashes back to the fifties and sixties on Marilena, the shuffling brushes and the guitar riff out of a Ricky Nelson song like Poor Little Fool but taken in a different direction. And the chorus is a great example of what she does so well—adding a couple of words onto the ends of certain lines, giving the chorus a unique twist, a different rhythm. This is not the only time she does it, but it is the most obvious.
As for Story In Your Eyes, the only borrowed song, bongos and semi-jazz acoustic guitar offset Flint's voice so well it might take awhile to realize where you heard it before. It is a Moody Blues song, of course, but the treatment here is in another dimension altogether. Flint slows it down and uses phrasing to make it her own.
For straight pop fans, there is a bit of a mid-period Brit rock feel to Are You Blue?. One and a half minutes of Beatles-inspired pop, maybe? The following track, "Snow Angels", has a hook and a half as well as a catchy chorus.
The package itself is very well done, though the layout is more Nashville than it should be. Kelly Flint barely skirts modern country on this CD and Nashville is only a whisper. It is much more folk, pop and rock than country, but you can label it what you want. Flint is a solid songwriter, a good vocalist and a superb lyricist. One of those is a good thing. Two is a score. Three, my friends, is a hat trick.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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