Colton Kayser is back with round two in his ongoing musical journey of alt-country/Americana explorations. His 2014 self-titled release put him on the map, garnering great reviews and earning him new fans throughout the Tri-State Area and beyond. He hammered that release home with cross-country touring and honing the songs in many rooms across the nation. That hard work has resulted in not only a nomination for Top Male Acoustic Act in the Asbury Music Awards in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, but also Top New Male Act at the 2012 Jersey Acoustic Music Awards. His self-titled debut record garnered praise as well with a nomination for Record of the Year at the 2014 Asbury Music Awards. Kayser’s song “You And I” was also nominated for Song of the Year.
So, with a solid debut record, cross-country touring, and countless gigs under his proverbial belt, Kayser is set to release his second album, Place To Settle.
Kayser tells us, “This record is about dealing with the uncertainties of life and finding your way through them. There were a lot of variables in my life at the time, and they influenced my writing.”
His sound has further cemented itself in the alt-country/Americana world while retaining the melodic pop accessibility of his previous release. This new record also has the dubious distinction of the Lakehouse crew treatment. Recorded at Lakehouse Studios and produced by Jon Leidesdorff, Place To Settle was also engineered by Eric Kase Romero and Tim Panella. All of the songs (except for “Love Of My Life,” written by Colton Kayser and Joe Parella) were written by Kayser and Leidesdorff.
Colton also spared no expense with his band, bringing in big guns such as Alex Brumel and P.K. Lavengood on guitars, as well as Roshane Karunaratne on piano, Wurlitzer, and organ. Glen Burtnik also was brought in to add his finesse on backing vocals.
Diving right into the mix, let’s explore the latest world of Colton Kayser and Place To Settle.
First on the disc is a song called “Bad Guy.” Kayser’s vocals are unique and fitting for the choice of music he creates. Melodic and poignant, Kayser mixes personal angst with longing for love and understanding in this poppy number. Crafted for radio airplay, “Bad Guy” hits on all cylinders. Guitars are structured and in control as drum work courtesy of Mike Linardi steers this expansive composition straight down Gold record Avenue.
The disc namesake is up next. “Place To Settle” bounces and rolls out with breezy, up-tempo folk-inspired romps through life. Kayser doesn’t give it away right away and builds his songs from the ground up. Should he let this person back into his life or not? Instrumentation is awash in organs, guitars and bass and drums as it moves along its quirky path. I especially like Kayser’s ability to utilize melodic understanding in his work and “Place To Settle” is the perfect vehicle to get him into the hearts and minds of many more fans.
“If You Love Me” is up next. This song reminds me of John Lennon’s early period right after he left The Beatles. Kayser’s vocal prowess is unstoppable here as he sings to the girl he needs to get away from. Love went wrong or of being nonexistent is the theme of the day here and it’s a winning combination. Once again, the band is top notch and fills out the thought process of Kayser’s musical reality. I can only hope that he’ll be using them all live when the time comes at the end of the month. I love the guitars here as well. Straightforward and stylistic, Lavengood and Brumel can do no wrong in my eyes.
“Save My Soul” is next in line and it’s an otherworldly experience in blues-lined alt-country. Guitars are subdued under pianos, bass, and drums. This song sort of carries a Jeff Buckley vibe as it swings along in its old Texas honky-tonk feel. The choruses are huge and tied into modern rock while retaining that old-time bravado. Guitars chop and strum as organs whirl in the background. This is real time backwoods Tennessee smoke at its finest.
“Love Of My Life” jumps from the speakers as Kayser focuses his posse on his lyrical content. Utilizing the common theme of love, Kayser laments and confesses his feelings to the one he cares so much about. Guitars chirp harmonic accompaniment as organs shimmer over the top. Reminiscent of old Mathew Sweet, “Love Of My Life” works its magic throughout. I love the slide guitar parts toward the end of the song, a dark sound that truly ties this together well.
“Miss Fourth Of July” shuffles into the speakers next. A rhythm-oriented piece, the Wurlitzer hums along with Kayser’s country-tinged vocals before the band kicks into the mix. Jagged and raw, “Miss Fourth Of July” pops with old-school R&B feel. Choruses are smooth and agreeable, lending an air of 1960s Stax sound to the entire tune. Guitars trill single-note runs as bass and drums nail the whole thing to the floor.
“I Guess So” reminds me of a combination of Wilco and My Morning Jacket. Lyrically explosive, Kayser puts a good foot forward with this song. Acoustic guitars skiffle the beginning as Roshane sets a bit of sparkle over the top before Lavengood and Brumel join in to lend their melodic magic to the mix. I dig the organs here as they add integral sound and vibe to the song. Regret for the past and hope for a future alignment are the theme of the day here.
“Going Down To Georgia” slips out of the speakers next. Kayser laments his decision to follow that one particular individual right to the end. Guitars are Keith Richards-inspired greatness as drums and bass anchor the meat to the metal here. Once again Roshane sprinkles magical melody down over the top of this back-porch Alabama waltz. Great slide work here as well.
The disc ends with “As Kids.” Pianos punctuate the mix as guitars chug and chunk underneath. Kayser demonstrates great talent with his arrangements and key choices on this entire disc, but this song is probably my favorite. Choruses pop when they’re needed, and nothing is overplayed or done to death here. Organs float to the top of the middle-eight before the band comes back to engulf Kayser and his lyrical message of childhood.
I don’t remember Colton’s first record right now, but I’ll have to go back and listen now that I heard Place To Settle, as I’m sure it’s got to be as good as this is. Colton Kayser has something extra special here, and I know that by the time he unveils it on July 30, people are going to be grabbing it just as fast as it becomes available. Place To Settle will be available on July 30 on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and everywhere else there’s good stuff on the web.
Just a nod to everyone who contributed to Place To Settle: Colton Kayser – Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Background Vocals; Alex Brumel – Electric Guitars; PK Lavengood – Electric Guitars; Roshane Karunaratne – Organ, Piano, Wurlitzer; Jeff Levine – Organ; Jonathan Tea – Piano; Cody McCorry – Bass, Coffee; Erik Kase Romero – Bass, Percussion; Mike Linardi – Drums; Glen Burtnik – Background Vocals.
Go over to coltonkayser.com for info on the release and his next show.