Continuing in the vein of his previous releases, rock singer-songwriter Kurt Vile’s new “B’lieve I’m Goin Down” satisfies with sincere and unpretentious vocals, compelling song arrangements and ponderous, intricate guitar passages.

The sixth studio album for Vile – a founding member of The War on Drugs – the new album opens on the catchy rhythmic notes of “Pretty Pimpin.”

“I woke up this morning / Didn’t recognize the man in the mirror,” sings Vile. The self-reflection theme is relatable and Vile’s warm and jaunty arrangement is contagious.

A little mellower than his last release, most tracks are a continuation of the native Philadelphian’s past songwriting style boasting a subdued, mesmerizing approach with a warm, gauzy vibe. Subject matter is often meditative and thoughtful, and often quietly humorous, with superlative acoustic guitar touches in all the right places.

If you’re not familiar with him Vile has a unique folk-rock style that’s more rock than Americana, nicely accentuated by his languorous approach to delivery and vocals. There’s a bluesy J.J. Cale element to his songs as well, which at first listen may seem simple yet are fairly complex, holding up well upon repeated listening.

His rollicking banjo on “Outlaw” is entertaining, the gentle humor of “Lost My Head There” engaging, and the atmospheric “Kidding Around” absorbing.

Have a listen:

Kidding Around

On his somber and reflective “That’s Life Tho (Almost Hate to Say),” we’re struck by his candid observations and confessions. When he sings lines like “The laws of physics have shown / that a man must walk through life via peaks and valleys,” we’re listening. And for fans of well-executed acoustic guitar, don’t miss tracks “Stand Inside” and “All in a Daze Work.”

About Kurt Vile

A musician since he was a teenager, in 2005 Vile began collaborating with musician Adam Granduciel and the two formed The War on Drugs. They released their debut “Wagonwheel Blues” in 2008.

That same year Vile also released his solo “Constant Hitmaker” leaving the band to focus on his own career.

A talented and prolific musician, Vile’s discography includes “God Is Saying This to You” (2009), “Childish Prodigy” (2009), “Smoke Ring for My Halo” (2011) and “Wakin on a Pretty Daze” (2013).  His musical influences have included Neil Young, Beck, Randy Newman, John Prine, Bob Dylan, Steely Dan and John Fahey.

Members of The Violators, Vile’s backing band, are Jesse Trbovich, guitars, bass guitar, saxophone; Rob Laakso, guitars, bass guitar, keyboards; and Kyle Spence, drums and percussion.

The oldest of ten children, Vile’s first instrument was banjo and he uses open tuning when playing guitar. His extensive guitar collection includes a Gibson Les Paul, Fender ’64 Jaguar, 1957 Fender Stratocaster, 1961 Guild Starfire Hollow Body, a Gold Tone PBS-D Resonator Guitar and several Martins for acoustic. The new album was released on the same label as his last few, the independent New York city-based Matador Records.

Standout tracks on the new album: “Pretty Pimpin,'” “That’s Life, Tho” “Wheelhouse,” “Kidding Around” and “Wild Imagination,” a love song of sorts.

Wild Imagination


Vile played Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival in July, performed at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom a few weeks ago and is currently on tour in Europe promoting the new album.

You can find his music on iTunes, Amazon and on his website.

Cynthia Orlando
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