Paul Kelley 

Round the Bend

Paul Kelley's newest album seems, for the most part, split into two kinds of music. Tight songs like "Bluebird At the Mirror" and "No Excuses Now" have a classic country feel along the lines of Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Hoyt Axton. Others, like the kind of jokey "Buddha Rock" and the blues rock ditty "Kick Back," might not make the cut on a big label album but would certainly get a family-friendly crowd dancing down at Caras Park during a brewfest. It's not exactly a schizophrenic situation, but some songs feel more complex than others.

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Kelley—a Missoula music institution himself—couldn't have picked a better group to back him up. It's a who's-who of Missoula musical royalty: producer Jim Rogers on various instruments including piano, Chuck Florence on saxophone, Phil Hamilton on harmonica and Ellie Nuno on fiddle, to name a few. For that, the musicianship is pretty airtight.

It's nice to hear a solid album of all originals. "An American Soliloquy," which is split into two sub-songs called "Open Any Window" and "Rang Dang Do," has its heart in the right place, but the story about 9/11 and a mighty soldier is a bit heavy-handed. It's the more mysterious songs that keep the album strong.

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