Stephen Kellogg is that rare singer-songwriter who can take hackneyed themes and make them as fresh as morning mist on a country blacktop. Kellogg comes on like any other guitar-strumming, tale-spinning regular Joe, but his gift of balancing lyrically intimate verses with uplifting choruses means that, from start to finish, this record will have you dancing in place and mouthing the lyrics to Kellogg's gentle rockers. Like a young Van Morrison or contemporary Nashville types who sing about imaginary girls and persevering against the odds, Kellogg roams familiar ground, but almost to a fault; he overturns cliché into heartfelt songs given breadth by his rangy, rustic, recognizable vocals. From fulsome opener "Flower in Rain" and balls-out rocker "Vegas" to closing lament "Keep Me in Your Thoughts," Stephen Kellogg perpetually surprises.
(Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers perform at The Social, Thursday, April 14.)