Album Review

Les Kerr's Latest Provides a Sunny Respite

Les Kerr - Bay Street

Nashville’s Les Kerr creates a sound that’s both jovial and cerebral all at the same time. His wry and breezy observations are somewhat akin to the music made by Jimmy Buffet, especially the way Kerr tends to tell his tales from a generally genial perspective. Like its predecessor New Orleans Set, Kerr’s latest, Bay Street, takes an idyllic look at life on the Gulf Coast, frequently veering into Buffet territory with clever commentary about people and places typical of seaside environs. Making music that he likes to call “Hillbilly Blues Caribbean Rock and Roll,” Kerr takes his stylistic additives from a variety of genres -- reggae, country, folk, blues and rock ‘n’ roll -- and meshes them into a hybrid that’s philosophical, sunny and suggestive. He adds a tender touch on ballads like “Running Buddies,” “Still on the Farm” and “Southerners and Irishmen,” injecting some knowing sentiment into everyday occurrences, whether it’s the unspoken romance that pervades the former, the sense of longing that inspires the latter, or the hard-fought struggle simply to survive that forms the basis of the song in-between. As a result, he comes across as a kind of tireless troubadour, sharing his philosophical outlook from the view of an eccentric Everyman, one who frequently sees things from a somewhat skewed point of view. So too, when he offers up an amiable description of a sleepy beach town called “Magnolia Springs,” it’s practically impossible not to want to while away some time in a place that can offer a well deserved respite.