There’s a sleepy, melancholy drawl to singer/songwriter Gabriel Birnbaum’s vocals in his sweetly sad new single “Blue Kentucky Mile”. With the loping rhythm, tremolo’d guitar, and almost ghostly shuffle of the track, you’d think you had come across some long floating radio signal stuck in time. A musical present from the past wanting to lull us from the modern daily grind.
But no, this is most definitely a modern slice of music magic. Birnbaum has a voice that’s reminiscent of David Bazan, had Bazan been influenced by Cowboy Junkies and Chris Isaaks instead of church camp and disillusioned faith. Gabriel Birnbaum pulls from classic singer/songwriter fare like Neil Young and Cat Stevens, but mixes it with modern marvels like Bill Callahan, Okkervil River, Josh Ritter, and the emotional heft of The National and Grizzly Bear. But make not mistake, Birnbaum has a magic all his own.
Birnbaum’s new album Not Alone is a late night drive of a record with stops in dive bars, 24-hour diners, mountain top look outs, and lots of reflection over warm beers and cold stares. It has the feel of 70s singer/songwriter albums, but with modern touches and a sense of looking back. It’s a drifter of an album; each song a stop along the way to somewhere, but we’re just not sure where.
“Blue Kentucky Mile” is a story painted in minor key delights and barroom dance floors and 2am. It’s sweet, sad, and lopes along like early Randy Newman. This song would feel right at home stuck between “Mama Told Me Not To Come” and “Suzanne” on Newman’s 12 Songs. Birnbaum locks into that Newman vibe quite well here, which to my ears is a damn good thing.
Check out the video for newest single “Blue Kentucky Mile” below, and preorder Not Alone now(out tomorrow, 11/22 on Arrowhawk Records) at Gabriel Birnbaum’s Bandcamp page.