Album Review

Pat Kearns Goes Solo With a Dramatic Debut

Pat Kearns - So Long City

Having shared his talents in various endeavors throughout his career -- as a producer, singer, songwriter and prime mover in the Portland Oregon-based band Blue Skies for Black Hearts -- Pat Kearns might have been excused if he chose to simply rest on his reputation and relegate himself to an inconspicuous role within his  band or to a supporting player for one of his clients. Instead, he’s opted to position himself front and center with only the barest accompaniment and the most minimal of instrumentation. The results are manifest in an album that is exceedingly tranquil throughout, with only a handful of songs -- “I’ve Seen the Light Some of Us Never Will” and “Hit the Highway” qualifying as even slightly upbeat entries. Nothing else impinges on that mellow mood, and even in those few cases where there's an uptick in the pacing, Kearns keeps consistent clarityby using only acoustic guitar and harmonica to underscore most of the music. It’s easy to get swept up in these laconic lullabyes, which, when taken in tandem, sound like a soothing sidebar to life’s daily grind. The sound is sedate, as unhurried as it is unembellished. That forces the listener to lean in at times, if for no other reason than to simply relish those more melodic moments. At its essence, So Long City provides the getaway its title implies, an escape to more idyllic environs where outside interference finally fades away.