b’lieve i’m goin down
Reviewed by: Matt Kelchner
Moving from album to album with our local guitar slung hero Kurt Vile is like moving throughout the different hours of a day. 2011’s Smoke Ring For My Halo was a deep, dark record and 2013’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze served as it’s easy going, laid back counterpart. For b’lieve i’m goin down, his sixth studio release, Vile dives back into the gloom with a self described dark album made for and from the night time. In doing so he comes back up with a collection of songs that live up to the hype and anticipation surrounding them.
Wading through a vale of slow moving, melodical haze, we find Vile drifting between old and new, familiar and uncharted on b’lieve i’m goin down. Subtle finger picking that just drifts alongside smooth flowing, almost spoken word-esque lyrics, “All in a Daze Work” feels like it could fit right in with his previous effort. The reference in the song title helps too. Immediately following it, there is a completely new sounding song. “Lost my Head there” is driven like a handful of other songs on the album, with piano.
B’lieve i’m goin down has more keyboards and pianos playing bigger roles than ever before. It’s new territory for a songwriter best known for his work with a six string. Along with these is “I’m an Outlaw”, a song with Vile’s homemade banjo taking the lead melody. With all of this said, every tune comes together in a way that is uniquely his own.
There are a number of standouts throughout the twelve songs that make up b’lieve i’m goin down, but the back to back pair of “That’s Life, tho (almost hate to say)” and “Wheelhouse” are tops. The first showcases a funnier and more sarcastic side that comes up frequently throughout the album. In a song that analyzes reality versus perception in one’s life, Vile sings early on, “When I go out, I take pills to take the edge off / Or to just take a chillax, man and forget about it / Just a certified bad-ass out for a night on the town / Ain’t it oh-exciting, the way one can fake their way through life”.
The latter of the two comes via an all night session out in the Rancho de la Luna desert studio in Joshua Tree. After being the only one up continuing to work, Vile recounts staying up until the sun came out working on what would become “Wheelhouse”. It’s six minutes of classic Kurt Vile; rolling, finger plucker guitar and carefully chosen lyrics all done so in a way that seems so carefree. In a world where he continues to rise we find Kurt Vile continuing to go his own route and push his own boundaries. B’lieve i’m goin down is a trip through the desert; knowingly lost but with a map, relaxation in the middle of nowhere.