Soundtrack to a Haunting

Electric Western (Harlan Honeywell Records)

By Kory Wilcoxson

I had the auspicious experience of first listening to Electric Western while making a late-night drive on a snowy night. What I found was the perfect soundtrack for a journey such as mine: energetic enough to keep me awake but as haunting and somber as the loneliness of driving solo.

Yardsale plays well in the daylight, too. The Louisville band has made significant strides on their third album, adding a band member, a pedal steel guitar and a new level of songwriting from Kirk Kiefer that borders on brilliance.

Take “While She Sleeps,” for example, in which Kiefer contemplates bolting out of his current relationship while watching his significant other slumber: “While she sleeps my hands swim through her hair / and I try to figure out if I care.” As he makes the listener a part of the decision-making angst, Kiefer connects on a deep level with the feelings all relationships inevitably conjure up. And the ambiguous ending couldn’t be more real. Should he stay or should he go? “While she sleeps I consider turning 'round / and sneaking back in without a sound.”

Electric Western consistently delivers the goods in a tightly wrapped alt-country package. While the music of Kiefer, Chris Luckett, Chris Scott and Lowell Tryon definitely trends toward the country side, Kiefer’s vocals are often closer to Bob Dylan than Tim McGraw. Kiefer is as adept at the up-tempo songs like the sublime “Willing to Wait” as he is with the more contemplative “Kari I Know.”

Judging from the quirky humor of the liner notes (the album is respectfully dedicated to the noble Yeti), the guys in Yardsale are as cool as they want you to think they are, which makes their music go down even more smoothly.

Yardsale will perform at the Highlands Tap Room on February 23.

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