D. A. Kissick has a knack for painting vivid portraits of characters with his ornately arranged pop and indie folk songs as showcased on Much Later, his new full-length album. Much Later employs concurrent musical and lyrical narratives that wind and sway. Drawing from a diverse pallet of sounds ranging from synthesizer to banjo to hand percussion to gang vocal, the album is instrumentally vast. Even so, Kissick’s songs are narratively rich, and rooted in simple, natural and beautiful melody.
Kissick uses unconventional arrangements and song structures to elevate words and melodies that are steeped in a feeling of innocence and skepticism. In the opening track “Lord, I Was Set Up” the protagonist grapples with church authority and the difference between right and wrong. I imagined myself as an adolescent attending church and choosing to skip the sermon to sit in an older friend’s parents’ van and draw cartoons, dreaming of high school’s freedom, cigarettes, parties. The song feels like it defends such inclinations or an intuitive preference to engage in what I would call a more natural human activity.
Later Kissick speaks through other reflective characters in songs such as the confessional “Marylin”, and the disintegrating “Hayden You’ve” where the subject characters have pulled out previous bad decisions, feeling their weight and coming to terms with them.
The offbeat indie rock number “I Can’t Face The Fire” pulls you in with hooking guitar licks and grooving bass line, ending with a sort of call and answer between an apparently depressed protagonist and a supportive group of friends.
An extraordinary element that is unique to Kissick’s songs is the use of pauses, silences where characters may be thinking or reflecting, injecting space into the songs and allowing the listener to let the lyrics sink in. The combination of extraordinary instrumental range and strong character-driven lyrics make this album stand out.
When listening, you might notice, Much Later has an immediacy that makes it feel as though it’s happening to you right now.