On Kenny Selcer’s long-awaited ambitious effort, I Simplify, New England’s veteran acoustic / Americana minstrel has put together an album that fuses Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street nuances with Grateful Dead guitar/keyboard interplay. Those Stones’ nuances are subtle, an undercurrent on the opening track, “I Know It’s Not Too Late,” Selcer’s philosophical observations rife with intentional simple word structure a la Bernie Taupin in Elton John’s classic “Daniel,” taking the “rain in Spain” cliché rhymes and using them to good effect. “It’s All Around You” was in release a few months before the album (an electronic, internet single, of sorts) and it is beautifully constructed with Steve Peabody’s drums giving the reggae-flavored love song it’s march along beat. The production is exquisite, Selcer the former owner of a recording studio in Boston back in the 1980s and live sound engineer who has worked with too many name artists to list here, places instrumentation and voice perfectly. Each song is over four minutes, so the fourteen tracks make for a long listening experience, about seventy minutes or so.
The four and a half minute “Evelyn” is a standout and has Selcer on mandolin and most instruments, a la Emmit Rhodes and Paul McCartney, Rob Rudin helping out with some of the drum programming. For the Americana Pop that the song is, there’s a flavor of blues in the singing and lyric.
The title track at 5:39 is the longest, an epic with the rhythmic beats accented, a heavy reggae boost with Selcer choosing many light guitar licks and backing vocals to boost the vibe. Mixed by Matt Hayes at Wellspring Sound in 2016 with the studio owner, Eric Kilburn, handling the mastering, the love and care put into this project is clear, as exhibited in the Celtic instrumental “Kenny’s Tune,” a truly inventive mix of sounds that is compelling bringing to mind when voiceless pop songs would rule the airwaves, Paul Mauriat’s “Love is Blue,” the timeless “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” by Sounds Orchestral, the airy, catchy, splendid sounds before Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” developed the hard rock instrumental as a hit record. Final track “Stay Awhile” features Stompers/Fox Pass bassist Steve Gilligan, with keyboards from Chris Billias and Mike Migliozzi on drums. The use of a band brings another flavor to a mostly self-performed album though players Roland Ochsenbein on piano, conga/percussionist Manolo Mairena and bassist Andy Solberg add their talents throughout, this is mostly a self-performed project with Kenny Selcer bringing to life some of his BMI administered catalog featuring music and words that span fifteen years, from 2001 to 2016.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.