Keith Alan Mitchell - This Clumsy World (Cover Artwork)

Keith Alan Mitchell

This Clumsy World (2014)


San Francisco singer-songwriter Keith Alan Mitchell is interested in breaking free. He's interested in separation, in the things that unite and divide us, and in the ways that division can help us break out of old patterns and move on with our lives.

Like all good troubadours, he's channeled all these thoughts into an album - his debut solo effort This Clumsy World, recorded by Scott McDowell at Hyde Street Studio and mastered by Brian Lucey (The Black Keys, The Shins). The record, which marries straightforward acoustic Americana with the more international flavour of indie folk, pays homage to bands like R.E.M. and The Head and the Heart, along with soloists such as Tom Petty and David Gray.

Standout track "The Feud" layers crunchy guitars and langorous bass-lines over shuffly drums and, at the end, a satisfyingly saloon-ish piano solo. Telling the story of an acrimonious band break-up, Mitchell sings "We could talk this thing to death, but let's not waste our breath", and, with an acid tongue, "No price tag you can see, but that don't make it free - and I want it back now".

Elsewhere, the infectious "You Just Disappear" laments the fleeting presence of some important figure in Mitchell's life ("You just disappear and leave no trace like you were only there in my mind"), while uplifting pro-union number "The Low Way" is the perfect soundtrack to a sunny drive down a long, empty road ("We'll get where we're going if we give it our best").

Mitchell's not breaking any new ground with This Clumsy World, and much of the record could be accused of languishing in the middle of the market (if, indeed, you consider this an accusation - which it needn't be), but his songwriting is solid and there are without doubt one or two earworms on the album that may stay with you for quite some time.