Song: Nelson Kempf – Hourglass review

by Philip Moss

Dividing your time between the harrowing chill of America’s most north westerly state of Alaska, and the south eastern heat of Tennessee must be a dizzying experience. But it was during those dark, lonely nights – working away from his family on the Tundra, as the harrowing winds of the Arctic Ocean emphasised his solitude – that sparked the creative flurry of Nelson Kempf’s Hourglass.

Having written his upcoming record, Family Dollar, over a ten year period, Kempf has left the folk traditions of his earlier compositions behind. Vocally, he flits between the soft, not quite falsetto of Sufjan Stevens with the vocoder experimentation of Frank Ocean. But it’s through the voice led arrangement, which twists and turns like his journey back and forth through Middle America, where Hourglass really tips the sand – bringing to mind Justin Vernon’s transition from the cabin to the studio.

To call Hourglass pop music may be a far stretch – but its a swirl of inventive melodicism that  marks a very exciting debut single – and from the disorientation of its origins lies its magic.

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