Fans of early Amos Lee — in other words: well-crafted acoustic soul — mustmustMUST tune into Spencer Kilpatrick, a Reno, Nev.-based songwriter who previewed the single ”Lungs” on Soundcloud just this week. Like Lee, Kilpatrick — who’s getting primed to tour nationally, starting tomorrow — has an in indescribably smooth and endearing timbre, something transient and touching between smoke and silk. And while ”Dear Carolyn,” the single he self-released last month, hinted at a command of rhythm in its bluesy lament, ”Lungs” outdoes it and then some, resolutely overflowing with the effects of time and a wounded soul.

”Keep a close eye on me in the deep water / Fill my arms with the blame,” he moans. ”Breathing ain’t that easy when you’re trying to keep the heat off you / Fill my lungs with your name.” This is powerful stuff, not the type of thin-willed folk you often hear from blues-based singer-songwriters just cutting their solo-career milk-teeth. Kilpatrick’s voice is a heartbroken vessel and it is uniquely matched with the mastery of his craft he displays.

On his Bandcamp page, Kilpatrick pays homage to the lyrics of Joan and The Rivers’ Eric Smith — that band, too, has a new release — and El Camino Sutra’s Keith Damron; his work fits alongside both well, taking the minute details and making them emblematic. And, while Kilpatrick’s work with garage-soul trio Failure Machine (I’m thinking mostly of Elko) is fairly amped-up and colorful, his work here is much smaller, more intimate, almost hushed. But nothing is lost in the translation.

There’s not a lot one can say about one-off, one-song singles but, if ”Lungs” is any indication of his future solo efforts, take note now: you’re going to want to keep an eye on this guy.

About the Author

Justin Vellucci

Justin Vellucci is a former staffer at Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines like American Songwriter and PopMatters, alt-weeklies such as Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper, and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish and Linoleum, and the Gannett publication Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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