I am honestly a bit confused about the newest record from Mark Kozelek, an artist who began recording in 1992 with a band called Red House Painters. They broke up in the late 90s, and Kozelek then released a couple records under his own name before getting some of his former bandmates together under a new banner, Sun Kil Moon. He has since released numerous live albums (usually solo), several wild and controversial covers albums (reinventing AC/DC and Modest Mouse as acoustic folk), as well as a couple more Sun Kil Moon albums (usually with a band). The newest record, Admiral Fell Promises, breaks his habit of releasing solo work under his own name—this album is entirely solo acoustic, all on nylon-stringed guitar. Ultimately, I guess it doesn't matter whose name is on the sleeve, and anyone who has followed his career can attest that the man rarely strays far from what he does best, which is hushed, plaintive acoustic folk. The fact that virtually every album he has put out has featured as its cover art a monochromatic (usually sepia-tone) photograph, typically a room or a window or other abstract space, reminds his listeners that they are getting what they paying for: a dreamy, hazy hour of sparkling guitars and Weltschmertz. In terms of making cover art a reflection of the aural contents, only Jandek matches Kozelek (although sound-wise, Jandek is an anti-Kozelek, from another universe where ugly is beautiful).
This is not Kozelek's best album. I prefer his band work; 2003's epic Ghosts of the Great Highway is the best album he'll ever write, a well-rounded song cycle with elegiac tales about doomed boxers and barn-burning Crazy Horse guitar workouts. It remains my most-listened-to album of the entire 2000s. I hope that Kozelek plugs in again, but in the meantime, Admiral Fell Promises is a very sold effort, with the guitar work a joy, as usual. And taking a look at the cover, another sepia daydream, at the very least you know what you're in for.
Note: Orders directly from Kozelek's label, Caldo Verde, receive a four-song EP featuring more wild covers, this time Stereolab and The Jackson Five (!).
From Admiral Fell Promises, here's "Third And Seneca":