Having just finished listened to Sweet Remedies, the debut release from young Liverpool-based multi-instrumentalist The Pistachio Kid, I can safely say that I’m still not entirely certain of what I just heard. Is it jazz? Blues? Folk? Is it simply acoustic indie?
Well it’s somewhere between none of those and all of them as impossible as that sounds. The Pistachio Kid, otherwise known as Charlie McKeon is an immeasurably talented young man with not only the musical ability but the foresight and aptitude to write a collection of songs that seem as secretive and sentimental as a well-kept diary. This deep interpersonal connection is built as McKeon bares his heart to you and in turn you feel yourself giving something back. Combining his earnest song writing skillset with a seemingly subtle series of melodies, understating his own sound to hone your attention in on his incandescent and hauntingly charming vocals. The work McKeon produces seems a long way beyond his years and his voice seems almost as if it is echoing to us now through the ages, like light traveling to earth from a faraway star – it appears here before us seemingly lightyears from its origin and then disappears into the unknown.
There is not only a deep-rooted sense of intimacy to McKeon’s work but also a flare for the dramatic and a definite desire to experiment with every available facet of sound. As Sweet Remedies opens with its title track, the focus of the song stems from somewhere that sits between acapella and a barbershop quartet as McKeon layers himself over and over to contribute every note and beat as well as every voice. This is one of the most ethereal and dreamlike songs on the album with an immutable charm and depth of character but as with his other songs, it appears to be a litmus test of sound with only choice trace characteristics finding their way back into the rest of his work. His constant determination with his experiments not only yield plenty of breath-taking tracks but also a seemingly ancient quality with songs like Park Song echoing out from an almost Victorian time and Bicycle Thieves! Is a song so tender, tumultuous and ultimately poignant that it could almost have been direct from the soundtrack of the 1948 film.
Sweet Remedies is an album reminiscent of the medicine you were given as children – we’re always told it’s a sweet remedy but it’s almost always somewhat bitter. There is unarguably a sweet and tender sense of melancholy in McKeon’s work, but that renders it into a whole new medicine. This new tonic for the soul doesn’t just give you what you want, but gives you what you need. A heartening and heart-breaking collection on indelible memories and suppositions that all come together in obscure indie-folk-jazz fusions and trample your every expectation. This is the kind of remedy that can change the way you see the world, and for the better.
More info at: ThePistachioKid
Review by Joe Knipe