Album Review: Gabriel Kelley’s ‘It Don’t Come Easy’: Folk’s New Star

Name the last time the genre of folk music could say they had a star. Hard, isn’t it. After listening to Gabriel Kelley, it’s easy to say he could be folk-music’s next big ticket.

Having not seen an enormous amount of popularity in recent years, folk music is looking for a new icon. Someone who can carry the genre similar to how Bob Dylan did in the 60s. Kelley, whose folk lumberjack appearance and soft sounding tunes serenade, captivate and educate, might just be the kick that can reenergize a genre that is desperately lacking national attention.

“It Don’t Come Easy” is the debut album of Nashville-based singer/songwriter. With the melodic play of guitars, drums and harmonicas, mixed along with the vocals and acoustic sound of Kelley, “It Don’t Come Easy” is a pleasurable listen.

Kelley’s voice is astonishing. The deep, but harmonious tone anchors every single song nearly perfectly. At first look, you just don’t expect this man to have such a soothing voice. He’s a lot less Tim McGraw than he is Keith Urban. Despite those comparisons, Kelley is himself. He is different and it makes him the more likable.

He raised $26,000 to produce the album and love and passion for his work shows. Kelley at age 27, has had a life time of experiences in a rather short time frame. Once a writer for a publishing company, uninspired, Kelley gave it all up and bought an RV to write, live and record in. The Georgia native, who studied in Sweden and taught music in Guatemala, is just beginning to tap into his full potential.

As a good author would need to be if he were writing literature, Kelley and his craft for music is brilliant. He is a story teller. Combining the sounds of orchestra and the enchanting howl of words, he rhythmically expresses the deepest memories of love and life. Everything from the orchestra to the lyrical aspects of the album is well composed.

Possibly the best track on the album,” When is Enough” exemplifies the poetic use that is his word play. Expressing his pain he sings, “dressed up like a forgery of God. Lay awake in the stillness of the sun. And if I break then I know that this is love. When is enough enough.” Other tracks worth mentioning are “It Don’t Come Easy” and “See Ya Comin.”

With the country-esque roots that is folk-rock, folk the genre is almost too foreign to the ears of modern culture, who would much rather listen to something that cultivates pop standards. However, “It Don’t Come Easy” gives you what great folk music should indeed sound like- simply a man with a message worth listening to.

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