Okay, honesty time. I love music probably more than anything else in the entire world, and it’s no secret that my tunage of choice is typically that which is a half-century old. Many of the artists I write about here on Popdose are not that, but I see them as being rare exceptions to my preference. Mark Kraus, however, is probably the best stepping stone between the two; his raw, stripped-down, no-frills brand of music is refreshing in the way your favorite old record is. It doesn’t pretend, because it doesn’t have to.
It’s appropriate, then, that the first single from his new album The Story of Everything is entitled “Put an Old Record On.” See, Mark and I have something in common already! The song itself is the jewel in the crown of this album. Emotive, beautiful, and haunting, its melody is augmented with simple strings and poignant percussion. Frankly, the same could be said about the rest of the album. The bounciest it gets is the title track, with its finger-picked backbeat and “You and the Boys,” which borders on some ’90s alternative vibes. My personal favorite moment comes at the end when the plaintive “Broke Busted” segues into the appropriately titled “The End of Everything.” If the album concludes with a melancholy note, it’s only to leave the listener wanting more — which you will.
What I didn’t tell you about Mark Kraus is that his is a rather common story: troubadour breaks away from his former bandmates (Jr. Corduroy), drifted from Boston to NYC, abandoned another project (Tsui), and quits music altogether. His tale, however, comes with a twist in the form of his incredible comeback. Yep, you guessed it, this album. If you love Leonard Cohen’s diction, Bruce Springsteen’s storytelling, and Jeff Tweedy’s musical sensibilities, you’ll love Mark Kraus. He’s got it all.