I’ve always been a big fan of The Whiskey Boys and Mark Kilianski’s guitar playing in general. He is one hell of a picker and his range runs the gamut of everything from jazz to bluegrass to folk to blues. Really an all utility kind of guitar player (and I hear he can pick a mean mandolin as well). A couple months back, Kilianski left his long time gig as 1/2 of The Whiskey Boys and embarked on a southern adventure to find himself musically, spiritually, emotionally, whatever you want to call it…regardless, it is truly evident by this project that he has found his sound and where his art is going forward. “I Will Find My Lover By and By” is the product of a man and musician’s search for his voice and the results are pretty fantastic.
Whereas with the WB’s there was a significant amount of (what seemed to be) "story-song writing", I find an artist that is coming out of his shell and exposing a bit more deep emotional insight. There are some dark places, some more lighthearted narratives (driven by Kilianski’s tenor timbre), but certainly a more personal touch to this collection of songs. Heartbreak, weary and hardened by the road, and the optimism of finding that “one” who mends all, seem to be a common theme throughout the record. I believe the words and the conviction in Kilianski’s voice and find an artist who is cracking open the door a tad and letting folks in.
Stand out tracks for me are the excellent instrumental guitar piece “Christine / Whistlin’ Down That Lonesome Road” (honestly, I hope to see a full instrumental guitar record from this guy soon) and “Cigarettes and Coffee”. “Cigarettes” is a driving, bluesy number with a great narrative of driving cross country to find your lady fueled by nicotine and caffeine (frequently used in the genre, however well placed in this song). I can see it being a nice closer to a live set, people stomping and clapping along.
Another tune that speaks to me is “Hallways In My Head”. It’s probably the darkest of the tunes in the lot, both in the instrumentation, ambiance and lyrical content. Most of what I have heard from Mark has had a certain innocence (again, driven by the tone of his vocal) and light to it, but this feels different. There’s a bit of angst and anger in the vocalization and playing in this one as if he injects a bit more emotion both in his guitar playing and singing. You can tell this was one that he was itching to release some bad feelings by writing this tune. It’s also one of the strongest vocal performances on the record. All around this song really works for me.
I locked you in the house with me instead / still walking through the hallways of my head
Sonically, ‘IWFMLBAB’ is stripped down, but well produced…which suits me perfectly. The guitar playing, singing, and songwriting is all at the front and center with no frills to hide its simple complexities (and again, Kilianski is a ridiculously talented guitar player). Although, there are places I wish there was a fiddle or upright bass part, I think it suits the songs well and certainly is an accurate depiction of the songwriter, which is equally as important as production in my eyes.
Mark’s signature guitar picking rings solid throughout the entire work, but he has unquestionably found his voice as a singer-songwriter and that shows in the depth and maturation of the subject matter and presentation of the songs on this work. While he may not have the most polished of voices, I think it suits him and the music extremely well and its sincere and true and that’s something I can appreciate as a listener. I don’t think that folk/Americana/roots music was made for “polished” anyway. It needs a bit of dirt and grit to make it work right. From start to finish, this is an honest and raw compilation of tracks that I hope is just the beginning of what is to come for Mark’s solo career.
Mark will be releasing the record on May 25th, which co-insides with a performance at Passim’s campfire weekend –he plays twice this weekend. Be sure to get out and check out this new release and Mark live at the show! (http://www.clubpassim.org/memorial-day-campfire-schedule)
Also check out Mark on the interwebs at: www.markkilianski.com